Hartlepool Festival of Learning Awards celebrate the best of town’s adult learning success

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A special event recognized the individuals, businesses and organisations in Hartlepool that have made the most outstanding achievements in adult learning over the past five years.

They were presented with accolades at the first Hartlepool Festival of Learning Awards, which took place in the town’s Grand Hotel and also featured motivational guest speaker Paul King and music by singer Christina Andropolis.

More than 100 people attended the event.

Councillor Kevin Cranney, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “Congratulations to all our winners and indeed to everyone who was nominated. A very big ‘thank you’ also to the many local companies and organisations which made this event possible by providing sponsorship and other support.

“As these awards very clearly show, whatever your age or background it’s never too late to learn a new skill – not only can it massively improve your job prospects, it can also change your life.

“I hope the stories of these winners will inspire others to follow suit and take the path to adult learning – it’s well worth it.”

The awards were open to Hartlepool residents aged 18 or over and projects, organisations and employers providing learning provision in Hartlepool for adults aged 18 or over.

Awards were given in five categories.

Outstanding Individual - Hartlepool College of Further Education student Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer initially returned to education so that she could help her children with their homework and be a role model for them. After passing four GCSEs in 2014 she then went on to enrol on an Access to Higher Education Diploma which resulted in a distinction. She has since secured a scholarship to Sunderland University and is currently doing a degree in English and drama.

Her journey and commitment to study has had a positive impact on her family, friends and classmates, but especially her husband who has now also decided to go back into education starting in September.

Runner-up - Joanne Meilak

Young Adult Learner (ages 18-25) – Joshua Evans of Hart Biologicals

Joshua first started his apprenticeship at age 19. After completing it successfully, he secured a full time job in research & development. His has a willingness to learn and has taken part in a number of initiatives including co-ordinating a successful social media campaign for World Thrombosis Day. His manager describes him as “a much valued member of the team and an inspiration to other company apprentices. His dedication and learning ethic make him a worthy winner of this award.”

Runner-up - Laura Thompson

Learning For Work Individual Award – Danielle Lines of Hartlepool College of Further Education

Danielle first started as an apprentice personal trainer five years ago at Hartlepool College of Further Education Luminary Fitness Suite. Upon completing it, she continued her education with a Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching and Exercise, producing outstanding work and in particular specialising in programmes for women. Danielle is now employed as the co-ordinator of the Fitness Suite.

Runner-up - Susan Harrison

Innovative Learning Project / Group Award – The Moving Forward Project

The Moving Forward Project is one of 61 pilots across the UK and supports learners who suffer from anxiety and depression. In its first phase the project has helped 131 learners and has delivered 47 courses to date. It offers a person-centred approach and the success of the programme is down to the learners who were consulted to help shape the design and delivery of the courses. One learner said “I have still a long way to go but I don’t know where I’d be without you. Thanks very much for caring.”

Runner-up – The Life & Living Skills Class

Festival of Learning Employer Award – Camerons Brewery

Camerons Brewery took part in an innovative Age Diverse Management Programme which was funded by the European Social Fund Tees Valley Workforce Skills Project. The project provided the opportunity for the senior management team to focus on continuous improvement and a strategy for staff health and wellbeing was formalised - all which have resulted in improved productivity and staff morale.

Runner-up – Brickwork Services

The Employer Award winner received a package of training from the council’s Adult Education Team and the other winners each received a trophy and a high street shopping voucher.

The main sponsor of the event was Hartlepool Adult Education, with additional sponsorship from the National Careers Service and Monumental Training.