Inspirational student gains the Royal seal of approval

Imogen Johnson is presented her award from HRH The Duke of York, Peter Jones and Neil Old.
Imogen Johnson is presented her award from HRH The Duke of York, Peter Jones and Neil Old.

An inspirational student rubbed shoulders with royalty while scooping a national award.

Imogen Johnson, a student at East Durham College was visited by the Duke of York during a ceremony in London.

I really cannot put into words how amazingly inspirational Imogen is

Jill Tones

The 16-year-old from Blackhall was presented with the ‘Inspirational Student of the Year’ award by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones.

Imogen beat competition from hundreds of students across the country to win the prize.

The teenager, who is studying a BTEC in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, was nominated by fellow students and staff at the college for her incredible achievements on the course, despite being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The condition meant Imogen had severe pain and loss of energy, along with brain fogging, which made learning difficult. She became isolated and withdrawn and began to feel concerned about her workload.

She said: “I doubted my ability to ever return to being a high-achieving student. I shared my concerns with my tutor, Jill, who has supported me throughout and believed and reassured me that I could accomplish my ultimate goal of passing the course and continue to produce high-quality work when I was doubting myself.

“Since the start of the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy I have gained new friends, knowledge and experience and I feel very supported by the college, Jill and my classmates. The course has not only brought new learning and knowledge of business but a new appreciation and confidence in life and what can be achieved no matter what.”

Imogen’s tutor, Jill Tones, said: “I really cannot put into words how amazingly inspirational Imogen is. In all of my ten years of teaching I have never come across such a hardworking motivated student.

“Every time I think about Imogen it really makes me think that anything is possible and that we should never allow difficulties or problems to stop us from doing what we want, as this is certainly not what Imogen does, she knows what she wants and she is determined to achieve it regardless what is thrown at her.”

Peter Jones Foundation CEO Jonny Sobczyk, said: “We at the foundation are incredibly proud of Imogen and I’m delighted she’s been recognised for her hard work. Imogen is truly unstoppable and I am excited for her future.”

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy is a nationwide network of colleges that deliver specialist courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to set up their own businesses, from which they gain real-life experience of running their own company.

As well as meeting the Duke of York, who is patron of the Peter Jones Foundation, the winning students also got video messages of congratulations from various celebrities, including James Corden, Jack Whitehall, Holly Willoughby and Michael McIntyre.