Tampere Award granted to comedy crew Kummeli and Honorary Counsellor of Higher Education Markku Lahtinen

Every Tampere Day, the City of Tampere traditionally bestows an award on distinguished individuals whose life’s work or activities have contributed to the development of the city and the well-being of its residents. This year, to celebrate the city’s 242nd anniversary, the jury decided to present two awards: one to the comedy crew Kummeli and another to Honorary Counsellor of Higher Education Markku Lahtinen. Both of the winners reflect Tampere as a city of high competence and great opportunities but also as a living city full of joy and humour.

The comedy crew Kummeli is presented with the Tampere Award for their significant contributions to Tampere’s cultural life. Hailing from Tampere and Kangasala and famous for their sketch comedy programmes, Kummeli is the most well-known comedy crew in Finland. Kummeli consists of members Heikki Hela, Timo Kahilainen, Olli Keskinen, Heikki Silvennoinen and Heikki Vihinen.

Kummeli celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Kummeli television series was shown on Yle from 1991 to 2004, gaining more than 900,000 viewers at the peak of its popularity. The sketch comedy of Kummeli has made Tampere and its essence known all over Finland, and Finns tend to strongly associate Kummeli with Tampere. Over the years, some of Kummeli’s jokes, spoken in their native Tampere dialect, have evolved into sayings and idioms, spreading widely across the Finnish language. While the television series is a cherished memory for the generations of the turn of the 21st century, the humour is also powerful enough to pass from one generation to the next. In addition to the sketch comedy programme, Kummeli has made numerous live performances, a record, several films and other TV series.

Honorary Counsellor of Higher Education Markku Lahtinen is also presented with the Tampere Award for his significant contributions to Tampere’s higher education and research. Markku Lahtinen has been involved in the creation of higher education activities in the form of applied sciences in Tampere from the very beginning. He has directed and developed the operations of Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the second-largest university of applied sciences in Finland, for 20 years as Vice President, President and CEO. He has successfully managed various changes at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the most significant of which include the extensive fusion of two universities of applied sciences, PirAMK and TAMK, as well as the creation of the Tampere university community. The cooperation between Tampere University of Applied Sciences and the University of Tampere was developed during the so-called Tampere3 project, resulting in the Tampere university community. Markku Lahtinen was one of the three presidents who initiated the project and substantially promoted its progress. He has also had a nationwide impact on the development of Finnish higher education through various positions of trust. President of Finland has granted Lahtinen the title of Honorary Counsellor of Higher Education. Markku Lahtinen retired from his position as President at TAMK at the end of 2020.

Laura Happo

Tampere Award granted to comedy crew Kummeli and Honorary Counsellor of Higher Education Markku Lahtinen. From left to right: Chair of the Council Ilmari Nurminen, Markku Lahtinen, Timo Kahilainen, Heikki Hela, Heikki Silvennoinen, Olli Keskinen, Heikki Vihinen and Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen.

The Tampere Award is a sculpture called Tammerkosken kuohu (‘Foams of Tammerkoski rapids’) by artist Markku Salo, a highly functional and eye-catching marriage of kerbstone as a symbol of the rough walls of factory buildings and glass as a symbol of the foams of Tammerkoski. The city has awarded this prize since 1959 to a total of 78 individuals.

Medals of merit granted for contributions in work against the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow over people’s lives in many ways over the past year and a half. Many operators across various sectors have carried out valuable work to prevent the pandemic and pull through the crisis. The City of Tampere will grant first-class gold medals to seven individuals who have tirelessly worked to protect Tampere residents in the challenging COVID-19 pandemic.

The city wishes to extend its thanks to all health care operators for their efforts during the pandemic by presenting medals to four health care professionals. The medals will be presented to Epidemiologist Sirpa Räsänen, Head of Health Care Work Birgit Aikio, Chief Physician Jaana Syrjänen and Service Director Anu Mustila. The city wishes to thank all employees of education services for their commitment during the crisis. Thanks to their efforts, the basic education of the City of Tampere has been able to provide extensive contact teaching, even in nationwide benchmarking, thus preventing a deepening learning gap. As thanks for the entire personnel, the medals will be granted to Acting Principals Petri Peltonen and Ville Raatikainen.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have varied across industries, but the tourism, restaurant and event industries have suffered considerably. With the medal presented to Managing Director Hannu Vähätalo, the City of Tampere wishes to acknowledge everyone working through the challenging COVID-19 situation in business while also granting Vähätalo personal recognition for his life’s work in the development of fair and expo activities in Tampere.

Laura Happo

The city of Tampere granted first-class gold medals to: Jaana Syrjänen, Birgit Aikio and Ville Raatikainen (1st line, from left to right), Sirpa Räsänen and Anu Mustila (2nd line), Hannu Vähätalo and Petri Peltonen (behind).

Epidemiologist Sirpa Räsänen has managed the city’s work related to infectious diseases throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Räsänen has worked as the city’s contact person for the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, the Regional State Administrative Agency and the National Institute for Health and Welfare while taking charge of preparing, updating and interpreting pandemic-related instructions for the city based on national and regional policies and guidelines. Räsänen’s support for the city’s units in treating, preventing and mitigating COVID-19 has been considerable. Sirpa Räsänen has also played a key role in building the city’s picture of the COVID-19 situation and reporting the situation as a member of the city’s management team for disruptive situations.

Head of Health Care Work Birgit Aikio has been in charge of managing and coordinating COVID-19 vaccinations for the City of Tampere. She has worked tirelessly to promote the vaccination coverage of Tampere residents. She managed the process of developing Tampere’s vaccination processes at Ratina and Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre into a highly functional operation that has been widely praised by city residents. Aikio’s expertise in communications has also proven invaluable with her taking an active role in vaccination-related communications to the media. The vaccination process has required a large number of recruitments that have been successfully managed under Aikio’s leadership. Vaccinations have also been efficiently coordinated and distributed to the environments where required by the need to reach the customers or increase the vaccination coverage. Vaccinations have been organised with excellent results in housing services for special groups, home care of senior citizens, services for substance abuse customers and pop-up events for students.

Chief Physician Jaana Syrjänen from the infections department of Tampere University Hospital has managed and coordinated measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, treat COVID patients and prevent the disease from spreading. With her expertise, Syrjänen has supported municipal work and acted as a link between national and regional work in cooperation with other authorities. She has played a key role in preparing regional and local instructions concerning the pandemic. Jaana Syrjänen has provided comprehensible communications to both professionals and the public during the pandemic and played a role in creating a safe operating environment in a challenging, unpredictable situation.

Service Director and Head of Health Care Services Anu Mustila from Fimlab Laboratoriot Oy Ltd has played a significant role in coordinating and organising COVID-19 testing stations. Fimlab is responsible for overall COVID-19 testing and sampling processes in Tampere. Fimlab is also involved in the processes of four other hospital districts. Mustila has coordinated the operations of these five hospital districts and managed communications with key stakeholders. Her efforts in managing the overall operations and her skills of finding the right individuals for critical tasks have been vitally important.

The basic education of the City of Tampere transferred to distance learning arrangements practically overnight as Finnish Government announced a state of emergency in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Throughout the pandemic, basic education operators have had to reorganise their teaching methods and update extensive instructions on safety and gatherings. The acting principals in basic education administration have shown remarkable crisis management capabilities and offered expert support for comprehensive schools, thus enabling extensive contact teaching in Tampere. Acting Principals Petri Peltonen and Ville Raatikainen prepared and deployed an efficient and quick quarantine process in cooperation with experts of infectious diseases to help either avoid both infections and wide quarantines or reduce their impact in Tampere’s basic education thanks to quick responses.

Shared communications and operational policies have made the crisis work of employees less stressful. The extremely high-level commitment to managing the crisis has provided basic education employees with safe operational prerequisites.

During Hannu Vähätalo’s 20-year career as a Managing Director, Tampere Trade Fairs has evolved into the second-largest fair and event company in the country. Under Vähätalo’s leadership, the company experienced 19 highly profitable years of operation before the COVID-19 pandemic. Tampere Trade Fairs organises targeted and high-quality trade and consumer fairs and expos and other events at the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre. In normal conditions, the fair programme of Tampere Trade Fairs covers more than 30 fair events per year. The average number of exhibitors is more than 3,500 and the fairs and events are visited by about 150,000 people. In 2019, the events of Tampere Trade Fairs brought EUR 30 million to the area, and events such as the subcontracting fair and the handicrafts fair were national crowd-pullers year after year. Hannu Vähätalo was about to retire from his position as Managing Director in March 2021, but the Board of Directors asked him to continue until the pandemic subsides. Thanks to the company’s successful and profitable years, Tampere Trade Fairs will survive the significant losses caused by the pandemic. Vähätalo’s efforts in developing the company and creating business opportunities in the Tampere economic area have been substantial. Last year, Tampere Trade Fairs and Fimlab opened a drive-in COVID-19 testing station at the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre, making the testing process considerably easier.

Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen and Chair of the Council Ilmari Nurminen presented the recipients with the Tampere Awards and the first-class gold medals on Friday 1 October 2021 at the Tampere Day reception in Tampere Hall.