Three years after completing a certificate in art and design in Whanganui, Tim Wilson has been named as one of the first UCOL alumni award recipients.

Wilson received the alumni service award for his role with No Duff, a charity supporting military veterans facing difficulties such as mental health issues and financial struggles.

The man from Marton was announced as the recipient at UCOL's Whanganui graduation ceremony held at the Royal Wanganui Opera House.

UCOL council chairman Ben Vanderkolk said that the awards provided a great opportunity to highlight the contributions of UCOL graduates or community members that are doing amazing things.

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"Members of our community and our graduates include dynamic leaders in industry, business and government, with many working tirelessly in their communities and sectors to make a difference," Vanderkolk said.

"We have been presenting awards to stellar individuals since 2011 and are looking forward to celebrating the newest award recipients."

Along with some friends, Wilson is a founding member of No Duff which he helped set up following a 16-year military career, including time served in East Timor.

The name No Duff stems from military terminology used to describe an emergency situation, in other words "this is not a drill".

After passing his course at UCOL, Wilson has been involved in three major art exhibitions with the majority of his work being in bronze sculpture and print.

One such exhibition was Soldiers Five: A Veterans Journey which highlighted the experiences of soldiers returning from conflict zones.

Put together with two fellow veterans, the exhibition was featured in Parliament's Bowen House Gallery in Wellington and covered themes such as transition, isolation, determination and hope.

Other alumni award recipients were photographer Kelvin Gilbert, designer Leilani Krans-Tunnage and beauty therapist Neunglatai Morrison at the Palmerston North graduation ceremony.