Caius Porter John Turton has received a special commendation from the Cambridge University Student Union for his pastoral support for students. John, a porter at the College for over nine years, offers a listening ear and a friendly voice for young people who may be homesick, feeling overwhelmed by workload or simply feeling low in the tricky middle of term when stamina runs low.
His kindness has now been formally recognised with a commendation in the pastoral support category of the Student-Led Teaching Awards 2017, organised by the university-wide student union, CUSU. All nominations are made by students, and students also form the judging panel. Over 600 nominations were received for this year's awards, for categories including innovative teaching, inclusive teaching and best undergraduate supervisor.
John, 50, said his own experience leaving home at 16 to join the army helped him empathise with freshers leaving the nest and beginning life at Caius. He said: "It was difficult to leave my mum, so I understand what they're going through. Some of them have what we call a wobble, and when they do I do my bit. It's a question of a walk round the courts, a chat or reminding them that the Lodge is always open. I just chat to them and reassure them. Their parents often come along afterwards to say thank you, and it does make me proud that I've helped them."
Nominees for awards are not told the names of the students who nominated them, so John can't thank them in person. He said: "I'm grateful to have this commendation - it's a real honour. It isn't just me that does this - the whole team does the same, and we all try to help. I just chat more than most!"
John is also a keen photographer, often contributing images to the College's Facebook page and other social media feeds.