University honours its healthcare heroes with specially designed medals for their Covid-19 crisis commitment


Birmingham City University (BCU) has honoured the work of its healthcare students, staff, and NHS partners for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic by awarding them with specially designed medals.

Designed by lecturer and jeweller Dauvit Alexander from the University’s internationally renowned School of Jewellery, the bespoke medals were created to recognise the efforts of students who worked on the NHS frontline during the height of the pandemic, as well as their teachers and healthcare sector colleagues.

Some of the medals were yesterday (Nov 14) awarded to staff, graduates, and representatives from NHS Trust partners at a special ceremony at the University’s Seacole Building – its healthcare education centre.

Birmingham City University Vice-Chancellor Professor Phillip Plowden said: “We are immensely proud of all of our healthcare students who showed outstanding resilience working on the frontline to protect the most vulnerable during the peak of the pandemic.

Professor Ian Blair, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of BCU’s Faculty of Heath, Education and Life Sciences, added: “We are delighted to also be able to formally recognise the way our staff adapted, incorporating different teaching methods including virtual reality and role play into lessons to ensure students could go on to qualify into roles that are powering the frontline of our public services and transforming lives.

“These medals are just a small way of recognising all of the commitment, sacrifices and dedication of our students, staff and NHS partners and we hope they will be something that will have a lifelong meaning for all our medal recipients.”

BCU alumnus Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive at Health Education England who led the Covid-19 NHS vaccination workforce programme gave a speech and handed out medals at the ceremony. He said: “Birmingham City University ‘s staff, students and workforce partners played a big part in the fight against Covid, with many of their students working on the front line supporting the region’s health and social care system during the pandemic.

“I’m very pleased to mark their achievements by the awarding of these beautiful medals, and I hope the recipients will cherish them as a memento of their commitment and contribution during this extraordinary time.”

In total, 2,015 medals will be distributed to healthcare graduates, teaching staff and NHS workforce partners, including students who graduated in the summer of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 at the height of the pandemic.

The silver-plated struck bronze medal design incorporates an embossed heart symbol alongside a microscopic representation of the coronavirus molecule, interspersed with a quote from the humanist geographer Yi-Fu Tuan on the ‘moral beauty’ of spontaneous acts of generosity.

On the reverse side, the word ‘love’ is repeated several times – a playful reference to the lyrics of The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love – and entwined around the molecular representation. The medals were struck in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter by the Thomas Fattorini company.

The medals were designed by Dauvit Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Jewellery and Silversmithing at BCU’s School of Jewellery which is home to the production of BBC Two jewellery-making competition All That Glitters, while its students and graduates designed the official athletes’ medals for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

He said: “It was a real honour to be asked to design a medal for those who have done something so altruistic as helping and saving others, often at their own personal risk.

“I wanted the medals to reflect the selfless nature of our health workers, teaching staff and students during the pandemic, hence the wording around generosity and love overlaying the heart – a powerful symbol of love – juxtaposed with the representation of the virus molecule itself.”

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