2012 Lion Award Winners

A night of celebration: 2012 Lion Award winners

The Lion Awards Dinner took place on Thursday 15 March this year. It is the culmination of the Medals for Excellence programme. Each year we invite all Medals for Excellence winners from across the UK and Republic of Ireland to London to celebrate their achievements together.

The highlight of the evening is the announcement of the prestigious Lion Awards. The winners for 2012 are:

Community Supporter of the Year - Kirinjit Sandhu, Level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice

During her time at Kent Probation Trust, Kirinjit has shown exceptional talent in working with Kent Police VISOR (Violence and Sex Offender Register) officers and dealing with high-risk offenders. She has demonstrated highly developed skills in risk identification and management, and completed her award 4-5 months faster than an average learner at the Kent Probation NVQ Centre - a sign of her dedication and commitment to achieving her qualification. In addition, she has been heavily involved in a project focused on 'crossing the communication divide', helping to develop the way Kent Probation staff communicate with others.

Since completing her qualification, Kirinjit has applied for the VQ Level 5 in Probation Practice, and she will be starting this soon.

Creative Craftsperson of the Year - Oliver Cross, Level 2 Certificate in Creative Techniques in Fashion

Oliver has always had a passion for tailoring, but it was only when he realised how unhappy he was in his current job that he decided to follow his dream. Although he had no sewing skills, he never let this hold him back, practising in his own time. He also took up extra lessons off site, working with a local tailor to gain first-hand experience, and frequently visited exhibitions and carried out external reading to boost his knowledge - something he then shared with his classmates to aid their development. All this while maintaining full-time employment, a second evening job and caring for his young daughter.

Oliver's enthusiasm meant he stood out from other learners, and his work was always innovative and completed to a high standard. His efforts have since paid off - he has recently been accepted into the London College of Fashion.

Employee Learner of the Year - Hannah Short, TUI UK & Ireland

Hannah took her apprenticeship through travel services company TUI UK & Ireland, and her staunch determination to succeed means that she's on course to complete her apprenticeship 9 months ahead of schedule. She has consistently impressed course leaders with her confidence in using her own initiative, her willingness to help and her enthusiasm to take on additional responsibilities. She has also been proactive in taking control of her development, expanding her knowledge where possible to boost her effectiveness in her role. As a result, in the last financial year, Hannah's sales in profit were the second highest in her shop, even though her colleagues have been at the company for a lot longer. And it's not just her colleagues who see her potential - her positive, helpful approach means she has earned extensive praise from her customers too.

Tutor of the Year - Helen Yates, Sussex Downs College

Helen teaches qualifications in retail, customer service, business and administration, and team leading. As well as helping her learners achieve - last year, she had a 97% success rate - she is renowned for her enthusiasm and inspirational attitude. After teaching business administration for just four months, an external observation rated her as 'exemplary'.

What sets Helen apart from other tutors is her dedication to ensuring all learners in the community have equal access to education. She has worked tirelessly to engage people who are currently not in education, employment or training, as well as those for whom English is a second language, adapting to their difficult situations. Helen is also held in high regard among employers, and is very proactive in working with them to promote qualifications.

Small Business Learner of the Year - Helen Banks, NPTC Level 3 in Floristry

Helen returned to learning after a successful career in accounting. Having spent much of her working life working long hours and commuting, leaving little time for her family, she made the brave decision to cut her hours and pursue her interests. She applied for a part-time floristry course, but soon realised she couldn't manage this, her family life and her career. She resigned from her job and took up the course full time - a choice which quickly proved to be one of the best decisions she had ever made.

Helen loved working with flowers, and after achieving a distinction in her Level 2 course, she continued on to the Level 3 Diploma. Drawing on her expertise of business and her creative skills as a florist, Helen set up her own business, specialising in wedding and event floristry.

Apprentice of the Year - Adam Waldron, Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Electrical Manufacturing)

Adam left school at 16 and joined Airbus in 2008 as an apprentice. Not only did he complete his technical certificate early, but he even managed to fit in a 6-week placement at Manchester Airport. After completing his apprenticeship, he wanted to continue on the Higher Apprentice Engineer programme, but first he needed to develop his skills further. For this reason, he stayed with Airbus to expand his knowledge and took his A-level in Maths independently, achieving an A grade. Adam's efforts were worth it - he has since been successful in moving on to the HAE scheme.

Adam is a well-respected member of the Airbus team and a true ambassador for the company. As well as showing high-profile people - including Edd Balls MP - around the Airbus site, he has advocated the benefits of their apprenticeship scheme on the national news. Alongside his successes in the workplace, he also took flying lessons to gain his Private Pilot's License and is now a qualified pilot on light aircraft.

Recognition of Centre Excellence Award - North Lancashire Training Group

A new award this year, this category recognises the college or training provider which has achieved the highest number of medallists.
This year, North Lancashire Training Group - one of the largest training groups in the country - had a total of 6 medallists, which is testament to the high quality of teaching and the dedication of tutors to their learners.

City & Guilds for Business Employer of the Year - McDonald's

As one of the largest employers of young people in the UK, training has always been at the heart of McDonald's. To date, nearly 35,000 McDonald's employees have achieved nationally recognised qualifications, gaining transferable and invaluable skills which offer opportunities to progress in the company, or within the wider Hospitality and Catering Industry.

Their continuous investment in training has had a significant impact on their business growth, and to their continuing success as an organisation. Their dedication and commitment to training, along with their ability to demonstrate the benefits to both staff and business, is an inspiration to other employers.

International Learner of the Year - Hirantha Rajapaksha, Advanced Diploma in Motor Vehicle Engineering

Hirantha's roots are in farming, but he wanted to leave this behind and achieve success in the world of motor mechanics. Despite a background of extreme poverty, he secured an apprenticeship at Toyota. During his apprenticeship, Hirantha realised the potential for a new piece of equipment to make production more efficient. He has since designed and developed this, and it could potentially reap a 90% cost saving. He is also actively involved in developing other products for the automotive industry.

Hirantha has shown inspirational determination to succeed. He had to travel eight hours a day to get to his training centre, and even when he dropped out to save on the cost of tuition fees, he still studied on his own and passed his exams with flying colours. His accomplishments have gone on to inspire others in his village, who are also pursuing motor mechanism. In the future, Hirantha hopes to develop his learning further by studying at a university in the UK.

FE Sector Learner of the Year - Nicholas Rose, Level 3 Certificate in Engineering (Fabrication and Welding)
Out of the six elements required for his technical certificate, Nicholas has achieved four distinction grades and has shown impressive progression during his studies. Having joined his employer at the age of sixteen, he followed an apprenticeship scheme with MetSkill, and he has continued to develop his skills. He has shown a strong ability to adapt to changing circumstances and is renowned for his attention to detail, dedication to his work, and excellent customer service.

As well as completing his apprenticeship, he has seen success in a number of competitions - a sign of his exceptional talents. His positive attitude has never waivered, and he is a real inspiration to his peers.

Innovator of the Year - Elizabeth Buxton, Tutor, Vocational Training Services

Elizabeth is incredibly passionate about her work in childcare - something which she inspires in everyone else she works with. Having worked at Vocational Training Services for over eleven years, she is an advocate of the importance of good quality training and is always keen to share her knowledge in the field and go the extra mile. All of her learners agree that her genuine and infectious enthusiasm has been key to their success.

She consistently seeks to develop her students wherever possible, using innovative teaching methods to enhance their practical skills. For example, she was responsible for setting up an interactive nursery, investing in infant simulators and smart screens so that her learners can get a feel for the situations they will have to face and be better prepared for the workplace.

Lifelong Learner of the Year - Patrick Nash, Diploma in Media Techniques

After working in a factory for over twenty years, Patrick took voluntary redundancy and decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a scriptwriter - a complete career change. Nevertheless, since taking this new direction in 2009, he has been committed to developing his talents so that he can succeed and excel in his field.

As part of this, he wanted to enhance his skills and knowledge of film making and directing. Although returning to education was a challenge for him, it didn't take long for him to stand out - his portfolio of work over the last nine months has been hailed as 'fantastic' by his tutors. And his hard work is undoubtedly paying off - Patrick has recently secured a literary agent for his screen writing efforts, agreeing a deal for a book titled 'Short Films: Writing the Screenplay'.

The People's Choice Award - Jonathon Shaw, Tutor, Deeside College

Tutor Jonathon has been regarded as a 'driving force' in the development, implementation and application of the Hospitality Team at Deeside College. His work has significantly contributed to the provision of a high-quality programme and excellent learner outcomes. He has been integral to the success of the programme thanks to his extensive knowledge and strong links with employers. In fact, since he has worked at Deeside College, in excess of one thousand learners have successfully achieved qualifications across Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Jonathan describes himself as actively dedicated to raising the profile of learning activities, and he is renowned for providing valuable support, confidence and encouragement to both learners and colleagues.

Outstanding Achiever of the Year - Nicholas Rose, Level 3 Certificate in Engineering (Fabrication and Welding)

Nicholas was selected as the Outstanding Achiever on account of the excellent grades he has consistently achieved. His qualifications have undoubtedly helped his development; he has progressed from simply fabricating components, to completing installations on customer premises - a sign of his employer's trust in his abilities. His talents have gone on to see him participate in a number of skills competitions:

  • The ISME sheet metal skills competition - winner of the open class technical merit award
  • UK Skills construction metal work regional winner
  • WorldSkills UK construction metal work finalist - 2011 gold medal winner.

Speaking about Nicholas and his successes, his tutor, Andrew Whitehouse, said:

'His progression both at college and at work are a true example of an individual's ability to change, adapt and prosper in an ever-changing global economy. It is a pleasure to teach and work with him, he is popular with his peers, and I am sure he will become a great asset to his company.'