Students and staff honoured at College's annual awards evening
By YouPR | Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 11:11
A week of celebrations at Weston College was rounded off by the annual awards evening, in which students and staff are honoured for the contribution to College life.
Construction Student of the Year Gina Brunt
The Celebration of Success event was held at Weston-super-Mare's Winter Gardens the day after Ofsted announced that Weston College had earned an 'Outstanding' grade following a pre-Christmas inspection.
College Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips thanked all students, staff and College partners for their contribution to the Ofsted success, and gave out more than 40 awards during the glittering ceremony attended by more than 300 people.
He said: "The Celebration of Success evening is always a pleasure to attend and it was even more pleasing this year that were able to celebrate our 'Outstanding' Ofsted result with all our worthy winners, their families and members of College staff."
Guest speaker was TV presenter Martin Roberts, of the BBC's 'Homes Under The Hammer' fame. He praised the talent of College students and advised them never to let self-doubt get in the way of their ambitions.
One of the stars of the evening was Rimante Zagreckaite, 19, of Weston, who won Travel and Tourism Student of the Year. A Lithuanian national, she came to the UK in 2007 speaking little English. However, she picked up the language quickly, and also learned Polish. Initially working as a cleaner at Weston College, she began a BTEC course in Travel and Tourism and has progressed to the Foundation Degree. During a recent class visit to The Gambia she impressed members of the country's tourism board so much that they asked if she would like a job with them. Rimante is also working at the College as a clerical assistant in HR.
She said: "The teaching at Weston College really inspires me and although I don't always have faith in what I'm doing I get a lot of help and support and that keeps me going. I'm very pleased and honoured to have won this award, and I hope to make a career in sustainable tourism in the future."
Picking up both the Care and Early Years Student of the Year award and the Principal's Award for Distance Travelled in Learning was 50-year-old Paul Greasley, of Weston. He is now studying at the University of the West of England (UWE) for a degree in learning disability nursing.
He said: "I came to College to get an education and along the way I met some great people and really enjoyed my course. It was an excellent experience and I can only thank my tutors for their support and fellow students for making it so memorable."
Gina Brunt, 23, of Glastonbury, was this year's Construction, Engineering and Motor Vehicle Student of the Year. She is studying Maintenance Operations at Level Two and eventually wants to go into property renovation.
"It's a privilege to be here," she said, "and it fills me with confidence for my studies. I'm a very practical person and this course is giving me everything I need in terms of practical skills. I've had some great work experience with Alliance Homes and I'm also class representative, so the opportunities at Weston College have been really good."
Daniel Brooks, 17, from Pill, is currently an apprentice chef at Flinty Red, one of Bristol's most talked-about restaurants. He was awarded Apprentice of the Year and was delighted by the honour.
He said: "I didn't know what to do when I left school so I went to Weston College to do a Hospitality Diploma and did some work experience at Flinty Red. Then they offered me an apprenticeship through Weston College and I took it.
"It's great experience - long hours, very busy and pressured, but very creative too and great fun. It's great to win this award - it makes me feel that I've worked for something."
Nick Blackshaw, 42, is originally from Salford, Greater Manchester. He led a life of crime and drug abuse in his home city and came to Weston to 'sort myself out'.
"I started at Weston College on a Counselling and Health and Social Care course," he said, "then I went on to the Foundation Degree. I'm now working with the Criminal Justice Intervention Team as a substance misuse practitioner."
Nick, who lives in Weston with his family and was one of the evening's three Higher Education Students of the Year, added: "Coming to Weston College absolutely changed my life. Without it I wouldn't have had a career and would never have achieved any goals. It gave me a fresh start and I'm forever grateful for that."