A UNIVERSITY student from Bromsgrove has been rewarded for her pioneering work for a disability charity with a prestigious award.

Isla Atay, a second year music student at the University of Manchester, has won the University’s Student Volunteer of the Year honour.

The 20-year-old, who donates her time to the Leonard Cheshire organisation, received her award from president and vice chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

Isla has received the award for the outstanding hard work and dedication she has shown to Leonard Cheshire and its various programmes.

While simultaneously studying for her degree, Isla volunteered her time to direct the rehearsals of a unique choir at Leonard Cheshire’s specialist Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury Service near Stockport last autumn.

Her enthusiastic and expert directorship brought together members of the community, ‘Can Do’ programme participants, Leonard Cheshire staff and people with a range of disabilities to sing as one.

While many had never sung before, let alone in a choir, Isla’s leadership took the group to new heights as they prepared to perform at the charity’s fundraising concert – A Christmas Musical Extravaganza at Arley Hall.

The Christmas concert was a sell-out success and saw more than 200 people in the audience.

Leonard Cheshire’s 2018 Change 100 intern Amy Bradley, who pioneered the Christmas Choir project, was particularly grateful for Isla’s hard work in helping her vision bloom to fruition.

Amy said: “Isla’s directorship helped bring the ‘outside in’ for the Oakwood residents, building friendships and helping to fuel ambition.

"Not only that, but it helped those recovering keep motivated and reminded them that there was life beyond their rehabilitation.

"Her unprecedented and novel manner has made a huge impact not only on people individually but on the community as a whole."

Isla has supported the charity outside of rehearsals, talking about the project on local radio, partaking in a number of fundraising activities and even nominating Leonard Cheshire for her Halls of Residence Charity of the Year.

Lindsay Gilbert, volunteering and community engagement manager at the University of Manchester, said: “We are so proud of what Isla has achieved for our local community.

"Volunteering is an important activity for our students and through this they are able to become part of the Manchester community whilst they are studying here.

"Isla’s work is an outstanding example of how that volunteering can really make a difference.”