X Factor’s Katie hands out prizes

Katie Waissel (centre) with East Durham College Student of the Year Tanya Shires and college principal Stuart Wesselby.
Katie Waissel (centre) with East Durham College Student of the Year Tanya Shires and college principal Stuart Wesselby.

STUDENTS proved they had the X Factor when a TV talent show star turned up to their annual awards ceremony.

X Factor finalist Katie Waisell brought a touch of glamour to East Durham College’s student awards evening when she performed and presented prizes.

The event was attended by more than 300 people, including 65 award-winners with their family and friends, staff and governors, the Mayor of Peterlee, Councillor John Hardy and other local dignitaries.

Katie, who got through to the final stages of last year’s show, said: “I’m thrilled to be here.

“I went to a college so it is a real privilege to present these awards.

“Keep working hard, and remember knowledge is power!”

Among the awards presented were student of the year, which went to 18-year-old Tanya Shires.

Despite having to get up at 5.15am to take two buses from her home in Newton Aycliffe to get to college, she managed to gain 97 per cent attendance and also coaches an Under-8s East Durham football team.

Also among the winners was Avalon Lovell-Jones, wife of ex-Sunderland footballer Kenwyne Jones, who picked up the University of Sunderland-sponsored access to higher education award and was also short-listed for student of the year.

Avalon said: “It’s amazing to be given an award.

“I found out I was pregnant shortly after I started the course and thought I would have to give up.

“But my lecturers helped convince me I could do it.”

After having the baby, Avalon plans to apply to university to study psychology.

College principal Stuart Wesselby, told the audience: “Tonight is a night to celebrate not only the achievements of the learners receiving these special awards but also to acknowledge the parents and carers as well as the many college staff who have helped in contributing to this group of learners.

“The students here tonight have demonstrated that they each have something special that makes their achievements worthy of an award.”

Previous X Factor wannabes to host awards nights at the Peterlee college include Jamie “Afro” Archer and Aidan Grimshaw.