PICTURE SPECIAL: Hartlepool College students celebrate their achievements

DOZENS of students have been commended for their hard work at a college’s annual awards.

Students, staff, families and employers packed into the glitzy Celebration of Achievement ceremony at Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street, Hartlepool.

Katie Thacker with her Student of the Year Award.

Katie Thacker with her Student of the Year Award.

More than 30 winning students collected their awards in front of a packed audience of families, friends, tutors and guests from the college’s many partnerships with employers and the local community.

The theme of the evening, reinforced by two specially produced short films, was flight - specifically, how two bicycle repairmen named Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the world in 1903 when they flew a pioneering powered aircraft, and how with the right skills, confidence and innovation anyone can do the same.

The theme was very much to the taste of the event’s Guest of Honour, Daniel Robinson, chairman and chief executive of Gus Robinson Developments, which was also main sponsor for the evening.

Before taking over the family business in 2012 Dan had been an RAF fighter pilot who had flown Tornados over Iraq, been a part of the elite Qualified Weapons School and spent three years attached to the United States Air Force, where he became the first British pilot to fly the F22 Raptor stealth fighter, the most advanced aircraft ever built.

Dan was on hand to present three special awards sponsored by the Gus Robinson Foundation, an organisation set up to continue the community-based work that was so important to his late father, for whom it is named.

Many of the college’s employer partners were in attendance including EDF Energy, Thirteen Group, Hart Biologicals, One Awards, Steria, Darchem, Wilton Engineering,

Cliff Jackson Pro Golf, TATA Steel and Hartlepool Borough Council. Many that could not attend sent gifts so all students received an award at the event.

The Special Award winners also received a trophy designed by local jewellers Mobeus.

In a short address Dan reinforced the words of those members of staff who had introduced each winner earlier by praising the hard work, dedication and sacrifice made by the students in the pursuit of their goals.

The final award of the evening was the overall Student of the Year 2014 given to Katie Thacker.

All guests were treated to a gourmet buffet prepared by the college’s catering students.