For the second year running we were delighted to sponsor the HEART Raising Aspirations Award at this year’s Yorkshire & Humber Adult Learners’ Week Awards.
We received an increase of around 600% in the number of nominations for the award and the quality of nominations was truly remarkable. Reading the stories of each learner, how they had taken the plunge to return to learning and some of the factors that drove them to study were truly inspiring.
There did, of course, have to be a winner and after considerable soul searching and heated debate we eventually agreed on Ray Whitaker, now studying for a degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management at the University of Leeds.
This is not however where Ray’s return to learning commenced as he initially took his GCSE Maths at Deacon House community education centre operated by Leeds City College. From this he took inspiration and confidence and literally walked across the city and eventually found the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds who offer free impartial advice and guidance.
On hearing Ray’s aspirations and aims he was supported and gained a place on the 1 year Foundation Level in Earth and Environment that has subsequently allowed Ray to progress onto his dream degree course.
The award was presented to Ray by the Chair of the HEART Board, Professor Margaret A House, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University.
Margaret in making the award spoke of how privileged she felt in being able to share in celebrating the achievements of the all the winners and the nominees. Margaret went on to say:
“HEARTs focus is naturally on individuals progressing to and succeeding in higher education, whether that is at a university or a college. However, I know that the initial steps to higher education start with the drive and determination of an individual taking the first step back into learning and this can often be quite a daunting step.
It’s why I am committed to HEART a partnership of competing colleges and universities. We set aside our competitive instincts when considering the support we provide to people entering higher education. It’s through HEART where we work collaboratively to support people to access higher education and why we work with Involve Yorkshire & Humber, the WEA and other organisations who help people take their first steps, their next steps and the right steps toward success – all through the power of learning.”
In response Ray provided a witty and heartfelt acceptance speech in which he referred to the value of learning, the need to keep learning and how he has gained encouragement and support from all the tutors he has encountered and just as importantly from his daughter who was fourteen when he first told her that he was starting at University responded with ‘if you can do it, anyone can Dad’. Ray stressed that this, from a young girl, is so true as anyone can do it. He called on all those at the awards to support their friends, family and colleagues to engage in learning and to keep learning.
We thank Involve Yorkshire & Humber and WEA Yorkshire and Humber for organising and coordinating the awards ceremony and the marketing of the Adult Learners’ Festival and NIACE for their national campaigning and coordination but most of all we thank all the winners, nominees and tutors who together make each Adult Learners’ Week award ceremony one of celebration of amazing achievements. Here’s to next year!
If you want to know more about how to return to learning and where to get expert advice on the range of options available do get in touch. You can call us on 0113 343 2312 or e-mail us.