The first Achievements Ceremony of The Bedford College Group combining students and sponsors from two counties, was held online on Thursday 26 November.
More than 16,000 students and 1,200 staff make up the Group community, supported by employers from across Bedfordshire and Northants.
Bedford College, Shuttleworth College, The Bedford Sixth Form, Tresham College, and the National College for Motorsport campuses were represented in the categories covering Further Education, Higher Education, Apprentice Awards and more.
Among the many awards for those across the various campuses, and study areas like apprenticeships and Higher Education, the Group-wide Outstanding Student Award went to Lewis Bavister, who joined a Hair & Beauty Study Programme initially to enable him to access a Level 3 Hair and Media Make-Up qualification. During his second year he was among the finalists in the Brush Wars tribute to the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. From there he gained work experience at London Fashion Week as well as on a charity TV show. He is now studying at a specialist arts university.
The Student Participation Award joint winners were Andrew Smith of Shuttleworth College and Will Gerrard of Tresham College. Both contributed to the improvement of student experiences across the Group and both were Student Governors who took part in the NUS event at the NEC Birmingham.
Staff too were in the spotlight. Gemma Crane, who started out in student data at the Brooks Hair & Beauty salon in Bedford then progressed to Human Resources Department won the Professional Service award.
Teacher of the Year was Phil Wells of Shuttleworth College who led on lockdown learning for outdoor and animal welfare and sciences students.
Joint “Unsung Heroes” were the late Chris Bamford of IT who was a “legend” among colleagues but who sadly died this year, and Sharon Warren, the lovely leader of Centre Administrators and who is the friendly face of the South Bank Arts Centre at Bedford College.
Ian Pryce CBE, Principal and CEO of the Group said:
“The year began with an excellent Ofsted inspection of the whole Group, our first since the merger with Tresham College. We also opened our stunning Zoological Education Centre at Shuttleworth College and enjoyed national and regional awards for our marketing and our estates and capital teams. The year has ended in similarly impressive style. We opened our landmark new campus at Wellingborough and a new town centre learning hub in Corby. We acquired the highly respected apprenticeship company Aston Training in Northampton, and to cap it all we were named the Times Educational Supplement UK College of the Year.
“Our students enjoyed similar national prominence winning international, national and regional prizes in the arts, in technology, in computing, in construction. The Bedford College Sixth Form became the biggest A-Level College in the area with record numbers progressing to our best Universities.
And all this in a year dominated by COVID-19. Even here our staff and students showed their outstanding qualities. Staff used their skills to help the NHS, we created and supplied huge amounts of protective equipment for local hospitals, and created learning materials to help school children study at home.
“You will have heard the expression: ‘It takes a village to bring up a child’. Equally it takes a community to develop a great college. Being UK College of the Year is an achievement of our community, our employers, our governors, our staff, our students, and all those parents, friends and family who have supported them. I would like to thank our community leaders and organisations for their support with projects and the wisdom of their advice. I should like to thank our superb local employers for the commitment they show to the area and most particularly to our students and apprentices. I should like to thank our governors for their dedication and intelligence in guiding us through such a tricky year. I would like to thank our fabulous 1,200 staff who have had to work even harder than usual this year for their patience and the speed with which they have overcome every barrier they have faced. I want especially to thank the ‘supporters club’ of parents, family and friends who as always play such a key role in helping our students succeed, and of course I want to thank all our students but especially those honoured this evening, for their diligence and hard work.
Thank you for making 2020 another great year for The Bedford College Group.
The closing address was given by Chair of the College Corporation Allan Schofield who said the college Group could trace its history back 130 years. “We have an increasingly crucial role in providing the skills to support the new infrastructure the country needs.”
*Host for the evening was college staff member Kevin Panter who was in 2019 on stage encouraging people to clap and cheer the awards.
Recognition of the long standing host and “star of the show” Elizabeth Nash, former HR Director of Bedford College, who sadly died this year, was made in the printed brochure distributed to key partners and sponsors.
The event was supported by local businesses. Gold Sponsors were BedfordBID which promotes the town centre under the Love Bedford brand. Our Silver & Bronze Sponsors were Anthology, Ascentis, Axis Electronics, Franklin Roofing and Property Services Ltd, Garrett’s Property Services, Inception, Lockcraft Electrical, Mindful Education, PRD Marketing, Rosetta Publishing and Weetabix.