The achievements of adult learners were applauded at an awards ceremony celebrating strength against adversity, selfless acts of kindness and a true determination to succeed.

Lancashire Adult Learning held its annual awards at Winckley Square in Preston where the learners, many of whom have faced significant obstacles, had their achievements recognised with an array of STAR awards.

Awards were presented for progress made in academic subjects such as English, ICT, and Mathematics alongside awards for contributions in areas such as Health and Social Care and Volunteering.

Phil Wilkinson, Chair of Governors at Nelson and Colne College Group, said:

“The services provided by Lancashire Adult Learning play a vital role in the lives of all the learners we serve at the college group and, as a result, our wider communities.

“Our learners display such levels of determination towards improving their own lives, it is essential that their efforts are recognised.

“Over the course of the evening we heard inspirational stories of individuals who have overcome staggering odds to forge better lives for themselves and go on to make real contributions to our communities.”

Among the evening’s winners was Carl Ablott.

Against a history of addiction, homelessness, and dyslexia, Carl went on to enrol on a Health and Social Care course and demonstrated such resolve that he has since moved from voluntary work to paid employment.

Along the way, he achieved a Level 1 and Level 2 in Mental Health and is now working towards a Level 3 in Mental Health as well as functional studies in English and Maths.

Another of the evening’s victors was Catherine Gandolfo, proving that age doesn’t have to be a barrier to learning or to keeping fit.

Catherine won the ‘Health and Wellbeing Star’ award for helping others to safely exercise at home during the pandemic.

On her award, Catherine said:

“I’ve always done keep fit and enjoy yoga but I hadn’t been doing any exercise for a while and wanted to get back into it. I saw the course with Lancashire Adult Learning and thought I’d give it a go.

“It’s been a wonderful experience and a great way to build new friendships. This was particularly true during the pandemic when loneliness became a real issue for many.

“The course has since led me onto other Lancashire Adult Learning courses, including Italian, Mindfulness, Relaxation and IT.”

The evening’s celebrations ended with Andrea Horrocks taking the ‘Overall Learner of the Year’ award.

Andrea first enrolled on LAL’s adult community courses in 2019 to gain knowledge, skills and certificates to support her role as a volunteer role within the community.

Since then she has become the Founder and Director of watchUSgrow, a charitable organisation based in Chorley which meets the needs of local community members experiencing issues with substance misuse, mental health, deprivation, isolation, or societal marginalisation.

On the tales of personal achievement, Phil added:

“Carl, Claire, Andrea, and all of our other learners show just what people can accomplish when they have the desire to succeed and a great support network around them.

“Whatever a person’s motivation for returning to learning, there has never been a better time to do it.

“And, with Nelson & Colne College Group recently deemed ‘Outstanding’ across the board in a recent Ofsted inspection, adult learners in our region have the ideal environment in which to resume their studies and build new lives for themselves.”

If you would like to know more about our adult learning courses, visit www.lal.ac.uk

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