A UNIVERSITY professor has clinched the Golden Apples award for best education leader in what was a tough category .

The winner - Professor Brian Webster-Henderson - represented the University of Cumbria, beating Woodend Country Childcare’s Hannah Sharpe, and Raughton Head Primary School headteacher Alison Dickinson.

"I was really humbled if I am completely honest," Professor Webster-Henderson said reflecting on the award.

"Everyone had gone through so much and put so much effort during the pandemic, so that made this one that little bit more special.

"I never even knew I had been nominated before I got the letter that I was a finalist."

He admitted that his response in helping nurses across the country with their mental health struggles was one of his proudest achievements from all the work he had done as an education leader during the pandemic.

He led the University of Cumbria’s crisis response which focuses on the health and wellbeing of all staff and students across its five campuses.

Brian been supported throughout by a senior team of colleagues, who have worked together to manage other pivotal aspects of university’s response.

With much of its provision focusing on key areas of public service such as education and health, the university has ensured its programmes continue to be delivered so that these vital areas have a continuous flow of students into the workforce.

In April 2020 around 98 per cent of the university’s nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students interrupted their programmes of study to take up the opportunity to join the NHS workforce on a paid placement to care for patients.

Professor Webster-Henderson, a professor of nursing, created this opportunity for students with key stakeholders and partners in Health Education England and the Department of Health & Social Care including the Chief nursing Officers of all four countries in the UK.

Professor Webster-Henderson is Chair for the Council of Deans of Health UK, a national organisation representing over 100 universities in the UK offering nursing, midwifery or allied health professions.

He is also a key leader and ‘trusted voice’ for the University of Cumbria’s staff and students, providing reassurance and acknowledging the pandemic’s impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The winner did well to claim the prize given the calibre of finalists, with Hannah Sharpe and Alison Dickinson being key leading figures in their own fields as well.

According to her team, Hannah always gives 100 percent she has a passion for learning following all the children interests in her care, she makes everyday exciting and children thrive under her supervision. She is totally self motivated and was a valuable member of staff during their outstanding Ofsted inspection in 2019.

Not getting this award is not something that will discourage such a passionate team leader for the children she cares for.

Not forgetting headteacher Alison Dickinson, who does everything at the school according to her staff, who have seen her unblocking drains, clearing gutters, chopping down trees, drilling, hammering and painting- never mind teaching as well.

Throughout the pandemic she remained so positive, posting videos on Facebook for all, keeping spirits high with entertaining stories and also making sure the school does not forget to remember special occasions like VE Day - she even dressed up - and Remembrance Sunday.