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Douglas Borough Council mentors top achievers in 2014 STEP scheme

Sunday, 28 September 2014 17:38

The two top-achieving undergraduates in the 2014 STEP scheme have praised the local authority for its support.


The award for Most Enterprising Student went to Olivia Rawlinson for her marketing project for the Douglas horse tram service while Andrew Corrin won the Best Presentation award for his study into how Douglas rates as a cycle-friendly town.


Trio BSC6519 MediumMinister for Economic Development Laurence Skelly MHK with Andrew Corrin and Olivia Rawlinson. Picture by Andrew Barton and with kind permission of the Department of Economic Development


Former Ramsey Grammar School student Ms Rawlinson, 21, a business and marketing undergraduate at the University of Hull said: ‘My STEP project brief was to create a marketing strategy for the Douglas horse tram service. This led to me not only writing a marketing plan but also getting involved in promotional activities for the final weekend of the horse trams ahead of the suspension of the service to accommodate the promenade resurfacing scheme. My project work varied massively from conducting market research to building a website and filming a new video to be released on social media.


Stairs DSC6038 MediumHis Worship the Mayor Councillor Stan Cain with Andrew Corrin and Olivia Rawlinson and Council officers who supported the students' projects


‘All the STEP students, from across the various different businesses, had really strong presentations and ideas from their projects, so I was really surprised to be announced the winner. What I have achieved over the eight weeks of the project couldn’t have been done without my managers, head of ICT Daniel Looney and assistant chief executive Sue Harrison. I’m very grateful to them for the tremendous support and time they have invested. Further thanks must be extended to the STEP organisers and to Douglas Borough Council for hosting my project this year.’


Trio DSC6047 MediumHis Worship congratulates Olivia Rawlinson and Andrew Corrin on their STEP 2014 awards


21-year-old Andrew Corrin from Ballabeg, a former Castle Rushen High School student now studying geography at Edge Hill University, said: ‘My project was split into four:  the business case, examining how cycle-friendly Douglas is now, developing a Douglas cycle map and proposing recommendations.


‘For the business case I researched what other places in the world were doing and how we could adapt accordingly. As assumed, it was discovered that the north eastern European countries had the best methods and attitudes to cycling, with Copenhagen having 36 per cent of its population cycling to work, whereas we only have about 1 per cent. Interestingly, thanks to a number of strategies, Dublin has managed to increase its cycling numbers by nearly 85 per cent to be within the range of 5.9 to 7 per cent.


‘To find out how cycle-friendly is Douglas now I devised a survey to which more than 1000 people responded. The results will help us discover what people want to make them cycle more, and what the key areas to tackle first are.’


Mr Corrin also contacted a number of leading local companies, many of which said they would support the idea of becoming a more cycle-friendly employer.


He continued: ‘The Douglas cycle map is a work in process to assess what routes we already have around the town and where new ones could go. This has been very challenging as our narrow Victorian streets aren’t wide enough to just add a cycle lane to, so we have had to think of other methods to make it easier to cycle round town…I now find myself checking every road I’m on around the island to see if a cycle lane could go there, or if it’s safe for cyclists.


‘Creating a group of cycle-friendly employers is one of the top recommendations; with their help we could increase our cycling numbers dramatically.


‘I enjoyed my time on the STEP scheme immensely and it has given me valuable skills and experience that I will use not only in my degree, but also throughout my career and life. My thanks must go to Douglas Borough Council and Douglas Development Partnership for giving me the opportunity to work on this project, with a special thank you to development manager Chris Pycroft for his help and guidance while supporting me with his optimistic enthusiasm for the scheme.’



 Andrew BSC6551 MediumAndrew Corrin with development manager Chris Pycroft


Mr Pycroft said: ‘Andrew’s research and passion for the project have brought a new perspective to how we view Douglas. The work he has set in train we would hope to develop in partnership with the private and public sector.  Especially encouraging is the level of support shown for seeing Douglas and indeed the Island as a whole become more cycle friendly.


‘The Isle of Man may have acquired something of a reputation as a sports cycling mecca, but the use of bicycles for getting around in general remains very low. Less than one per cent of the Island’s population cycles to work, compared to two per cent in the UK and four per cent in Jersey. Andrew’s project, though, has shown that towns and cities with proactive cycling strategies such as Dublin have increased cycling dramatically.


‘I am delighted with the way Andrew applied himself so enthusiastically to the project and wish him every success for the future.’


Mr Looney said: ‘This was the third year that Douglas Borough Council supported the STEP scheme and Olivia helped us with an important project on marketing initiatives for the Douglas horse tram service.


 Olivia BSC6545 MediumHead of ICT Daniel Looney with Olivia Rawlinson


‘The Council’s approach to the STEP programme is very much to let the students experience hands-on involvement and give them the opportunity to make a very real difference. 


‘Our officers guide and mentor the students along the way and this year we couldn’t be happier with the end result. During her time with us Olivia was a valued member of our team and the work she completed will contribute enormously to how we approach promoting the horse tram service in the future.’


The STEP programme offers undergraduates the opportunity to complete specific projects in paid employment with local businesses, allowing them to put their studies into practice in a real business situation. 


Administered by the Department of Economic Development and co-ordinated by local businessman Ian Moncrief-Scott, 2014 saw the largest number of STEP student applications (126), with a record 41 projects completed. 


(Bottom two photos courtesy of the Department of Economic Development. All photos by Andrew Barton)