College achievers celebrate success at Keele Hall ceremony

A student who was caught up in last year’s Manchester Arena attack and a teenager fighting cancer were among those honoured at Stoke on Trent College’s annual student awards ceremony at Keele Hall on 21st June.

The event, entitled ‘Celebrating Success’ saw winning students and their families welcomed by chair of governors Jeremy Cartwright.

Paul Farmer, managing director of Wade Ceramics and Ruth Smeeth MP also gave speeches at the event, alongside a video appearance from Oscar winner and former Stoke on Trent College student, Rachel Shenton.

Thirteen awards were handed out on the night, including Student of the Year, Contribution to the College Award, Apprentice of the Year, Sports Team of the Year and Institute of Sports Performance Student of the Year.

18-year-old Lucy Conway, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, received this year’s award for Achieving Despite Difficult Circumstances.

A year ago, she attended the Ariana Grande Concert in Manchester and has suffered depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder following her experience at the event that night. Durign the year she has also had to deal with housing difficulties and has been supported by the college to move into her own accommodation.

Despite all this, she is on track to successfully complete the first year of her level 3 course in performing arts and is a talented actress, dancer and singer. She will start her second year on the course this September and aims to go on to university to study performing arts.

The winner of the Student of the Year award, sponsored by Wrights Food Group, is 17-year old Tamara Bryan, from Bucknall. Tamara won this award in recognition of her determination to qualify as a hairdresser despite fighting a number of rare and aggressive cancers.

Since 2011, Tamara has undergone chemotherapy and a number of operations to remove tumours, which has also resulted in the loss of some vital organs.

Despite this, Tamara has continued with her studies and completed her VTCT Level 1 Diploma in Hairdressing in March 2018. She is now completing a cutting and colouring programme along with GCSE English and maths classes, and plans to start a level 2 hairdressing diploma in September.

Tamara continues to be under the care of the hospital, whilst also completing her 30 hours work placement at ‘The Salon’ in Kidsgrove. Sadly the surgery on Tamara’s liver was not completely successful as some cancer nodules remain on her liver.

19-year-old health student Ryan Carter, from Birches Head, was awarded for his achievements. Ryan has worked at the Douglas MacMillan hospice for two days a week on placement, as well as completing additional voluntary hours which he continues to do even after finishing the course. He has been offered a full-time job by the hospice but has his heart set on becoming a paramedic and has been offered a place at Staffordshire University to follow his ambitions.

The college’s Basketball Team were the proud winners of the Sports Team of the year. Coach Shawn Jamison, a former professional basketball player with the Harlem Globetrotters, has steered the team to great success, becoming West Midlands Regional Champions, ABL Northern Conference Champions, ABL Finals Runner-ups and more recently crowned champions at this year’s AoC Sports National Championships. The team’s captain, 19-year old Marcel Kofi, will also win the Institute of Sports Performance’s Student of the Year award.

Denise Brown, principal and CEO at Stoke on Trent College, comments: “We’re immensely proud of all our students’ achievements and this celebration event recognises those who have shown great determination, commitment and effort, either by their achievements on their course, by overcoming adversity, showing fantastic employment skills or community spirit.

The event wouldn’t have been possible without the financial contributions from our sponsors; Staffordshire University, Wrights Food Group, Lesniak Swann, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Ornua Foods, Port Vale FC Foundation Trust and the ICWCI. I would like to formally thank them for their support.

I’d also like to thank Ruth Smeeth, Paul Farmer, Rachel Shenton and our chair of governors, Jeremy Cartwright for supporting us and sharing some inspirational words with everyone present.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to say a big thanks to all the amazing staff at Stoke on Trent College who really go the extra mile to make sure our learners achieve their true potential. Awards nights like this are a true testament to the efforts and achievements of all our staff and students.”

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