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Exceptional students from Evesham, Malvern Hills and Pershore Colleges have been celebrated for their achievements at a special further education awards ceremony recently.

Fifty three students studying at the WCG Worcestershire family of colleges were recognised for their hard work, dedication and attainment throughout the last academic year. The event, held at Pershore College on 17 June, was attended by family, friends, members of staff and college governors.

CEO of WCG, Angela Joyce, gave out awards from each college department for Outstanding Achievement, Commitment to Learning and Student of the Year, before the overall Student of the Year from each college was announced.

The Evesham College Student of the Year award was given to Jessica Retallick, a Level 2 Early Years student. The 18-year old from Evesham, said: “I have really enjoyed my course and have learned a lot about how to be more independent and work towards the grades that I wanted.

“The teachers have really supported me with my assignments and I have always felt that if I needed any help, they were always willing to assist. I would really like to come back to Evesham in September and do the Level 3 Early Years diploma and perhaps consider university after that.”

Head of Department for Health, Social Care and Early Years at Evesham College, Rosalyn Lambert, said: “Jess is unique in her determined attitude to achieve the best not only for herself but also for her peers, for whom she is always willing to go the extra mile to help and support. Excellent attendance, consistently high grades and an unfaltering positive attitude make her the deserved winner of this award.”

The Malvern Hills College Student of the Year was awarded to Claire Holyhead, a mature student studying for an Access to Art and Design diploma. Claire, from Hindlip, had experienced significant health issues during her time on the course.

Head of the School of Art at Malvern Hills College, Caroline Park, said: “When Claire returned to education to study an Access Art and Design Diploma she had some reservations because she knew she was dyslexic, and there were several areas of study involved which she had not previously explored. However, she worked really hard from day one achieving a high grade profile of distinctions and merits for all her modules.

“She was then unexpectedly diagnosed with an aneurysm and her attitude to learning throughout this whole process has been amazing – she even managed to keep her project work on schedule despite undergoing surgery. She is inspirational, always having time to support other group members who are experiencing difficulties, and she still had one of the best attendance records for the class!”

Claire said: “I have found my time at college really useful and everything has been positive. Whilst studying I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm which put back some of my course deadlines but my tutors have been really understanding and supportive. I have found the whole experience really worthwhile, especially being a mature student. It was quite hard coming back into it but it’s all been a great experience.”

The Pershore Student of the Year, sponsored by Pershore Rotary Club was 18-year old Ben Clay, a first year Level 3 Horticulture student. Ben moved up from a Level 2 course in which he comfortably achieved an overall merit grade, progressing to his current programme of study.

Head of Department for Horticulture at Pershore College, Michael Fairclough, said: “Ben is a very practical student who really enjoys demonstrating his machinery knowledge, assisting less confident students during practical lessons.

“This year his focus, dedication and willingness to understand has impressed all of his tutors, not only on a practical basis but also on an academic and written basis. Ben has not only achieved very good results for his assignments he has achieved a distinction grade in his first year exam.”

Ben from Malvern, said: “I never thought that I would win anything like this, so when my name was called for Pershore Student of the Year I didn’t know what to think. It was quite a surprise and initially I thought that I was hearing things!

“So far I have enjoyed my time at Pershore College and have learnt everything from operating chainsaws to effectively planting trees and plants. A-Levels were not really for me so I followed a path that was more suited to my outdoorsy nature.

“I have enjoyed getting to know new people as well and I found them to be very friendly, and helpful.The trips to Croome Court and to Hidcote which were also enjoyable and helped to give me ideas for my assignments.

“After I have finished my Level 3 qualification, I will hopefully move on to a foundation degree in agriculture, with the ultimate goal of finding myself a career in the forestry and woodland management industry.”

An additional award, The Richard Martyr Memorial Trophy, was presented by the President of Pershore Rotary Club, Richard Williams to the Pershore College student most involved in local community projects during the year.

This year it was awarded to Blake Faulkner for his voluntary work as a grounds person at Pershore College. Blake started at Pershore College in September having not thrived in his former school environment. After having overcome a few challenges during his first few weeks he started to carry out work experience with the Pershore College Grounds Team.

Blake blossomed during this time and after his placement hours were completed, he continued to volunteer during his own time, including holidays, ensuring that the college grounds were in good condition for staff, students and the many visitors it receives over the year.

A direct impact of this volunteering, Blake has now found a weekend paid job in a local garden centre. Head of Department for Supported Learning, Re-engagement and Schools at Pershore College, Louise Badham said: “We are very proud of Blake and wish him great success as he moves forward.”

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