Graduate honoured with High Sheriff Award

Friday, 06 March 2015

Grow your own: Kitchen Garden competition

An Oxford Brookes graduate has been honoured with a High Sheriff Award at a ceremony held on Monday evening (2 March) at Christ Church, Oxford.

Ben Wilkins has been recognised for his dedication to tackle social problems, improve the community and the environment through his work with Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards (OBSEA) and his own social enterprise projects.

Ben has been involved in OBSEA since it began in 2012 when he pitched for funding to create an online platform to sell mini gardening kits and teach students to grow their own vegetables. He later pitched for a larger amount of funding to convert retired, decommissioned buses into low cost, eco-friendly holiday homes.  

These awards make me realise how dependent we are on the good will and incredible generosity of time from so many people in Oxfordshire

Tony Stratton, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire

Before embarking on his social entrepreneur ventures, Ben was and has continued to be involved in many community-focused projects, his first being a hugely popular session on the Brookes climbing wall for pupils from a local school. Ben headed up an enthusiastic team of students who pitched to receive funding from the Student Community Fund; an initiative funded by Oxford Brookes alumni to provide financial backing for current student projects.  The climbing wall sessions helped local children in some unexpected ways including one boy who had a condition affecting his hands and who found that his grip and his handwriting improved as a result. 

Now, Ben’s latest venture collaborates with Hill End Outdoor Educational Centre near Oxford which aims to maximise use of their assets over the winter, using profits from residential weekends to help develop gifted and talented children from low and middle income families.

Jeff Willmore, OBSEA Programme Co-ordinator said: “Ben is not just a proactive student with an enquiring mind; over the past three years, he’s also become an accomplished social entrepreneur who combined his studies with setting up at least three different social enterprises. 

“It is wonderful that Ben’s dedication has been recognised with him receiving a High Sheriff Award.”

Tony Stratton, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire said: “These awards make me realise how dependant we are on the good will and incredible generosity of time from so many people in Oxfordshire and I am delighted that we are able to recognise and honour a few.”

Read more about Ben’s achievements in the Oxford Mail’s University Life column. More information about OBSEA can be found on the website.