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The Corporation

Posted: 23/06/17

Accolades and applause for inspirational students

Inspirational students at West Nottinghamshire College have received accolades for their outstanding success and personal accomplishments throughout the academic year.

  • Dame Asha (front, second right) with (from left) Fahd Saleh, Maha Alchayb and Kay Jay Rose, joined by other award-winners and sponsors.
  • Kay Jay Rose receives the Apprentice of the Year award from Dame Asha.
  • Fahd Saleh (left) presented with his special recognition award from Dame Asha, joined by wife Tahrir and sons Omar (front, left) and Nrur.
  • Maha Alchayb collects her Principal’s Student of the Year award from Dame Asha.
  • Charlie Evans (centre) proudly accepts the Aaron Britt Memorial Award from Aaron’s parents Sue and Dave Britt.
  • Dame Asha addresses the audience of students, their families, staff, governors, sponsors, civic dignitaries and VIPs.
  • Guests gathered at the Derby Road campus for the glittering celebration.
  • Keynote speaker Russell Jones, chairman of Mansfield and Ashfield 2020, praised the award-winners for their “persistence, self-belief and pride”.
  • Chair of governors Nevil Croston told students: “Your commitment and ambition is extraordinary.”

Almost 60 learners across all curriculum areas took to the stage to collect awards at the college’s annual celebration of achievement after being nominated by their tutors.

The glittering event, at the Derby Road campus, Mansfield, was attended by hundreds of guests ranging from students’ proud family members and college staff and governors, to civic dignitaries and special guests including Cllr John Handley, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, Cllr Lachlan Morrison, chairman of Ashfield District Council, and the Rt Revd Tony Porter, Bishop of Sherwood.

Trophies and certificates were presented by representatives of sponsoring companies, while principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka gave prestigious awards to students singled-out for special praise.

Awards went to students on courses from entry to degree level including those that studied at college campuses in Mansfield, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield, in the workplace and at community venues.

The Apprentice of the Year award went to Kay Jay Rose, 19, for excelling on her apprenticeship at Nice UK Ltd; a Sutton-in Ashfield-based designer and manufacturer of automated gates, garage doors, shutters and road barriers.

Just weeks after joining the firm, Kay Jay found herself having to step into the role of warehouse supervisor when one of her superiors suddenly fell ill. She quickly rose to the challenge, combining her duties with working towards the Level 2 in Warehousing and Storage apprenticeship. After impressing her bosses, she was eventually asked to take the job on a permanent basis. She is also set to progress onto the level 3 warehousing apprenticeship through the college.

Kay Jay, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won this award – I just did what I had to do. I’m absolutely amazed and delighted at the same time. I’ve now taken on an apprentice of my own and look forward to teaching him everything I’ve learnt.”

Fahd Saleh, a 32-year-old Syrian refugee, received a special recognition award for his remarkable dedication towards his studies and being an inspiration to staff and students alike.

The father-of-two – a former professional goalkeeper in his homeland, having represented Syria’s national football team – enrolled on to the NVQ Level 2 in Activity Leadership last September after being resettled in Mansfield with his young family in December 2015.

Guests heard that despite struggling with the language, Fahd had thrown himself into his studies and had become an immensely popular member of the class. He had excelled on his work placement and had volunteered as a coach with the college’s football academy.

Joining Fahd on stage to receive his accolade were wife Tahrir and sons Nrur, five, and Omar, four.

Fahd said: “I am very happy because I have worked hard. English is not my first language so everything is more difficult – but I did it! I am very proud of myself. It was important to have my children here to see their father do good things because I hope they also do good things in the future.”

Fellow refugee Maha Alchayb, who was described as “an exemplary student who has overcome many barriers to learning to become an outstanding student”, picked up one of three Principal’s Student of the Year Awards.

Since fleeing Jordan with her mother Hafsah and sister Marwa 18 months ago, the 22-year-old has settled into college life and flourished on the BTEC Level 1 Diploma in Art and Design.

Despite her severe hearing loss and the challenge of learning a new language, Maha maintained an immensely high standard of work, developed speaking and listening skills, and gained 100% attendance.

Maha said: “I am so happy at college. I am really enjoying it here and the people are very nice; they’ve helped me a lot. My mother and sister were very happy and proud to see me receive this award.”

Principal’s awards also went to travel and tourism student Emily Bordino and A-level student Sara Kicks, who were unable to attend the ceremony.

The Aaron Britt Memorial Award was presented to 19-year-old Charlie Evans, who studies the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT (Software Development).

This special award is named after popular computer science student Aaron, who tragically lost his life aged 16 in a road accident on Nottingham Road, Mansfield, in 2011. It was presented to Charlie, from Newstead Village, by Sue and Dave Britt, parents of Aaron, whose creative, enthusiastic personality continues to be remembered by staff and students at the college. Each year the computer science team nominates a student who best exemplifies these qualities.

Speaking after the awards, Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive, said: “This very special event is one of the highlights in the college calendar and one that fills me with immense pride. In many ways, it symbolises what the college is all about – giving individuals the opportunity to grow and then sharing the celebrations when they fulfil their potential.

“It was deeply moving and inspirational to hear the amazing stories of what students have achieved; whether excelling in their studies, showing outstanding personal development or overcoming adversity.

“Each award-winner has shown extraordinary endeavour on their journey towards success and their accolades are extremely well-deserved. It is their commitment that makes the college what it is.

"I also pay tribute to our hard-working staff, who are so passionate about their students and show such dedication to helping them unlock their talents.”

Keynote speaker Russell Jones, chairman of the Mansfield and Ashfield 2020 business networking group, praised the award-winners for their “persistence, self-belief and pride”, adding: “I am so proud of this college.”

In his closing remarks, chair of governors Nevil Croston said: “One of the great pleasures of being a governor of this college is seeing the progress that students make”, telling them: “Your commitment and ambition is extraordinary.”

Award-winners that were unable to attend the event on Thursday 15 June will also receive a trophy and certificate, meaning 81 students were recognised at this year’s ceremony.

Sponsors of the awards were Eversheds, The Inspire and Achieve Foundation, McGregors Corporate, KPMG, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Browne Jacobson, Linney Group, Skanska, Francesco Group and Wildgoose Construction.