It was celebration time at Steam Museum on Friday with two separate Council-sponsored awards ceremonies taking place.
I had the pleasure of attending the Council’s Early Years Excellence Awards with my Cabinet colleague, Cllr Fionuala Foley.
Eleven staff were rewarded for their outstanding work with local pre-school children, but it is clear from the amount of nominations we originally received that there is a huge amount of good work going on in early years settings across the borough.
We have more than 250 early years providers and they ensured that more than 5,000 children received some form of early years education.
These providers do a fine job and are responsible for so many children successfully making the leap into full-time school education. It was therefore great to hear the passion of our award winners and how they strive to give every child in their care the best start possible.
Elsewhere in Steam on Friday, another group of award winners were being recognised for taking on their own personal challenges.
The Swindon Adult Community Learning Awards celebrated the efforts of a dozen people who put difficult circumstances to one side to complete a number of community-based courses.
The leaning opportunities are delivered on behalf of the Council through a variety of commissioned learning providers and are primarily aimed at people who have found themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own.
I know Swindon Mayor Cllr Eric Shaw and Cllr Garry Perkins, who attended the event, were bowled over by how the award winners had triumphed over adversity to complete the various courses and transform their lives.
Some of the award winners had overcome personal tragedy, some had recovered from serious illness, while some used the courses to improve their self-esteem and get themselves back in the workplace after being made redundant.
One of the award winners had even overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like the guest speaker at the event, Ashley Gordon who served with 1st Rifles and completed two tours in Iraq.
These award ceremonies are not only a great way of heralding the achievements of those involved, they also serve as a reminder to others of what can be achieved with a little bit of support and encouragement.
Our early years staff and our adult learners fully deserve the plaudits they received and I hope many more people will take inspiration from their efforts and follow their lead.