From furlough to working with the UN to help stop the spread of Covid-19

18th December 2020

A student from Sheffield Hallam, who was furloughed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and used the opportunity to offer her skills to humanitarian charity Shelter Centre, has been named as Apprentice of the Year.

Freya Woodward received the accolade at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Young Surveyor of the Year Awards ceremony that celebrates the most inspirational young surveying professionals in the UK.

She received the award in recognition for the way she used the opportunity of being furloughed from her job at Arcadis to approach the charity Shelter Centre.

This led to her working remotely on projects in partnership with the United Nations and the International Organisation for Migration, such as creating guidance on how to rebuild areas severely impacted by military conflict and mitigating the impact of Covid-19 in refugee camps.

She undertook these projects alongside her studies and will graduate from Sheffield Hallam with a first-class degree in construction project management in May 2021.

Freya said: “I like to be busy so when I was furloughed, I knew I had to use the time to make a difference and show what I can do.”

“I’m delighted to have won this award as there were some really strong contenders who were also nominated.”

She is now back working for Arcadis, within their Defence team, supporting numerous projects with the Ministry of Defence.

Freya is also the daughter of Louise Brooke-Smith OBE, a Sheffield Hallam alumna and honorary doctor, who become the first woman to hold the position of RICS Global President in 2014/2015.

On following in her mother’s footsteps, Freya said: “I believe having such an impressive female role model has shown me, and many other young professionals across the built environment sector, that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.”

The award winners were announced at a virtual ceremony which featured a series of discussion groups led by established industry figures, leaders in RICS and former winners of the Young Surveyor of the Year Awards.

The news comes as Hallam student Henry Yang was also highly commended at the AT Awards in the Student Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology (Project) category for his Sheaf Valley Link Project.

The judges said his design “combined sustainable measures with a mix of structural elements on a very challenging site.” 

Designed to recognise excellence in architectural technology globally, the AT Awards are recognised as the premier accolades, nationally and internationally, that demonstrate outstanding achievement in the discipline.

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