“Spirited” Sian wins West Highland College UHI student of the year award

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Sian Carlin at climbing wall

A young climber with an “indomitable spirit” who survived a long fall from the north face of Ben Nevis has been named the West Highland College UHI student of the year.

Sian Carlin, 18, from Maryfield, Dundee, overcame serious injuries to achieve exceptional grades in the first year of her adventure tourism management degree run by the college as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.   

Head of school Dr Peter Varley said: “Sian is a model student in pretty much every way, and her return from adversity underlines her resilient character and cheerful nature. She is a great ambassador for the course and we are very proud of her.” 

Sian, who is hoping to establish a career in adventure tourism marketing, was already a high-achieving and diligent student when she had her accident on Ben Nevis in January while climbing with friends. They had climbed the 1934 route to the top of Tower Ridge and were making their way back down when Sian tripped and fell about 400 metres. 

Her injuries included many broken bones and she was in hospital for four weeks, followed by two months at home. Sian returned to the college and resumed her studies in April.  

Dr Varley said: “Her indomitable spirit shone through and she attended our recent open day, still on crutches, full of beans and chatting happily about her experiences on the course. She has a fantastic attitude to her studies and showed real dedication to get back to work so quickly after her accident.”

Sian wins £100 as the West Highland College UHI student of the year and now goes through for the overall University of the Highlands and Islands title which comes with a further £200. 

She commented:  “When I left school I wasn’t so sure about going to university and I was looking at apprenticeships in outdoor activity instruction, but they were all in England. Then I found the course at West Highland College UHI in Fort William and it was perfect for me, and I can get a degree.

“It is absolutely brilliant – everything I wanted and more. I love being in Fort William which is such a beautiful place. I’m so lucky the course is here, and I’m only two-and-half hours away from home.” 

Originally from Dundee, where she was a pupil at Morgan Academy and won a city citizenship award last year for her charity and mentoring work, Sian has also been described as a tremendous asset to the student community at West Highland. At the open day she spoke to dozens of potential students about life in Fort William, activities and adventure tourism. And she uses the college’s social networking to answer questions and discuss issues about student life in the area.

Media contact
Glenda Johnson
UHI media relations officer
01463 279222