Twelve people who used learning opportunities to transform their lives have been recognised at a special awards ceremony.
Swindon Adult Community Learning Awards 2016 celebrated the outstanding achievements of individuals and volunteers who took part in a variety of community-based courses in order to improve their lives, and the lives of their families.
The event, organised by Swindon Borough Council, was held at STEAM Museum on 8 July, with prizes presented by Swindon Mayor Cllr Eric Shaw.
Military veteran Ashley Gordon was the keynote speaker on the day and inspired everyone who attended. Ashley served with 1st Rifles and completed two tours of Iraq before being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after leaving the Army in 2008.
After facing difficulties adjusting to civilian life, Ashley got the help he needed when he was referred to Active Plus and now works for the Community Interest Company to help others
The 12 award winners, and one overall Learner of the Year, were nominated by their tutors and celebrated their achievements and the progress they made in returning to work, volunteering or contributing in some way within their community.
The Learner of the Year Award was presented to Yvonne Nixon, who completed the Employability and Wellbeing course. Yvonne attended the course in February after she lost her job due to a difficult period in her family life.
Yvonne, a single parent with two children, did not want the setback to ruin her career so she joined a course at Best Practice to get her confidence back and brush up her employment skills.
She completed the course, successfully trained to be a security guard and passed all her exams. She said: “Through tears and frustration, hard work and determination, I have finally arrived at my destination.
“I have gained my confidence back and I’m more determined than ever to succeed.”
The courses on offer to people are enjoyable and fun and include: Employability and Wellbeing, Jamie Oliver’s Cooking Course, Puppet Theatre, Maths and English, Story Sacks and various IT courses.
Adult Community Learning is Funded by the Skills Funding Agency and is primarily focused on disadvantaged communities with the aim of engaging a wide range of people such as vulnerable adults, those who are unemployed, those with learning disabilities or physical disabilities, ex-offenders, single parents, or those on low incomes.
The Council delivers community learning through a network of commissioned learning providers including Swindon College, New College, Smiley Cats, Elite Progression, Best Training and Development, Learning Curve, Mussaret Tanweer, the Council’s Libraries service and Active Plus.
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy, Regeneration and Skills, said: “I must congratulate all our adult learners for their hard work and commitment, not to mention their courage in overcoming difficulties to move on with their lives.
“They have shown tremendous dedication to successfully complete their various courses and they are inspiration to us all. I wish them every success in the future.”