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Preston Mayor officially welcomes American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine to Preston

Preston Mayor officially welcomes American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine to Preston Banner Image

Councillor Brian Rollo hosts special civic reception

Students and staff from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) have been officially welcomed to Preston at a special civic reception in the city.

The Right Worshipful Mayor of Preston, Councillor Brian Rollo, hosted the event for the 650 strong AUC cohort who arrived in Preston last month.  The School is working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) to continue their studies after Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on Sint Maarten, the Dutch-French island where AUC’s medical sciences campus is based.

Councillor Rollo was joined by the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in London, Lew Lukens, the Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire, Ruth Connor, and Preston MP Mark Hendrick to welcome AUC with speeches and canapés at Preston Guild Hall.

Welcoming the AUC staff and students Mayor of Preston, Councillor Brian Rollo, said: “I am proud that Preston and the University of Central Lancashire could help and welcome the staff and students from the American University of the Caribbean.

“This ensures studies can continue and life can carry on as normally as possible while they’re away from home."

The Guild Hall event was a fantastic way to formally greet them with our usual, warm Preston welcome. We hope they enjoy their time in our city.

“The Guild Hall event was a fantastic way to formally greet them with our usual, warm Preston welcome. We hope they enjoy their time in our city.”

The whole operation was organised within just nine days, with AUC utilising the University’s academic facilities for teaching and numerous halls of residence and houses within the Preston City Centre for accommodation.  The students also have access to a range of UCLan facilities including the library, computing and pastoral care, and are associate members of the Students’ Union. Clinical skills training will take place at associated NHS trust sites in East Lancashire.

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas commented: “We are delighted to see Preston City Council welcome AUC into the community and really make the staff and students feel at home.  The fact that they are medical students brings this sense of community even closer, as the students will be working in our local hospitals in East Lancashire during their clinical placements.

“The University has a set of shared principals and compassion, teamwork and attention to detail are at the centre of these.  Our staff and Students’ Union have demonstrated these qualities in abundance to enable this partnership to become a reality and form a base for exciting future development.”

In her closing remarks at the ceremony, AUC Executive Dean Dr Heidi Chumley commented: “It’s clear that we found a truly special place in Preston. We have all been touched by the extraordinary hospitality and compassion that both Preston and UCLan have shown to AUC. This community has rallied to donate generously to our students, their families and the people of Sint Maarten, and UCLan students have mobilized to support and encourage our students.” 

It’s clear that we found a truly special place in Preston. We have all been touched by the extraordinary hospitality and compassion that both Preston and UCLan have shown to AUC.

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in London, Lew Lukens, added: “I want to thank the city of Preston and the University of Central Lancashire, on behalf of the American people, for the hospitality extended to these students affected by Hurricane Irma.  It is often said that we are cousins and I have to say you have indeed welcomed these students into your community like family. Thank you.”

Further comments on the day:

David Taylor, Pro Chancellor and Chair of the University Board, said: “East Lancashire Health Trust first alerted us with the opportunity to help and it’s been a great pleasure to work with AUC. We often hear stories in the media of how long it takes to get things done in this country, but we’ve shown that where there is real determination we can make things happen.  As this whole initiative has demonstrated, sometimes out of adversity comes hope.  What we’ve managed to do in such a short space of time is truly amazing.”

Ricardo Barranon, a second-semester AUC student and president of the university’s Student Government Association, attended the event to show his appreciation.

“We are incredibly grateful to Preston and UCLan for welcoming us and enabling AUC students to continue our medical education. To move an entire medical school across the Atlantic in a matter of weeks is incredible and shows the resilience of students who have been through a very traumatic time. We are looking at our time at UCLan as a new adventure.”

The Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire Ruth Connor also welcomed AUC at the civic event.  She said: “Here in Lancashire we are known for our warmth and hospitality and no-one deserves a warm welcome more than the medical students of AUC, who have seen unimaginable devastation to their home in St Maarten.  Whilst they are here studying at UCLan we really encourage the students to enjoy everything that the county has to offer. From the buzz of the modern city of Preston, boasting a world class museum and gallery in the Harris, some of the finest urban parks in the country and superb retail and social activities, to the unique seaside experience of Blackpool or the history and Royal connections of Lancaster which are all within easy reach. We want the students to look back fondly on their time here.”

View photographs from the event on the UCLan Flickr gallery.

Lyndsey Boardman | 20 November 2017