A night of celebration: 2014 Lion Award winners

Lion Awards winnersThe Lion Awards Ceremony took place on Thursday 5 June 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 2014 are:

Small Business Owner of the Year- Ellie Johnson, Tutor, Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing

Ellie is a hairdressing tutor at Highlands College in Jersey. When she joined Highlands in 1996 there were few part-time students and only a small number of hairdressing employers supported the College. She has built this up to a team of 4 full-time lecturers, 10 visiting lecturers, 40 full-time students, and 80 part-time learners. As well as her professional qualifications from City & Guilds, she studied for a University of Southampton Certificate of Education and has a Level 5 management qualification from the Chartered institute of Management. Ellie also owns her own hairdressing salon, which she works in on the weekends, and she keeps her skills sharp by working with clients on a regular basis.

Tutor of the Year – Andrew Dennis, Tutor, Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills – Bricklaying

Andrew works in HMP Maidstone teaching inmates basic construction skills. He challenges inappropriate behaviour, promotes teamwork and encourages lifelong learning. Andy's enthusiasm ensures that there is a high retention and achievement rate (90%). He has numerous letters from ex-offenders who have completed his course and now have work in the construction industry outside. Past and present students have said "Every Prison needs an Andy Dennis to help them achieve their future goals and aspirations".

Community Supporter of the Year- Ian Reynolds, Level 3 Certificate in Independent Advocacy (plus specialism)

Ian is a firm believer in championing the needs of ‘forgotten people’. He has worked extensively with adults who have complex needs like learning disabilities and dementia, and he always goes the extra mile to help. He started out training Motor Trade apprentices but had a drastic career shift to training in the care field. In this capacity, he has worked in a day centre for adults and taught employment skills to adults with learning disabilities. Later he managed a Post Office in Cornwall where he offered work experience to local people with learning disabilities. After this programme was closed down, he joined Carer's Rights as an independent advocate.

Creative Craftsperson of the Year - Jill Harden, Level 3 Certificate in Creative Techniques – Floral

Jill impressed her tutors with her ability to quickly pick up new floristry techniques. Having started floristry only in the last three years, she studied and achieved level 2 in Floral Creative Techniques before progressing to achieve a level 3. Despite having a full-time job, she never missed an opportunity to learn. She studied at weekends and constantly sought out new ways to expand her techniques. She isn’t afraid of a challenge, and always comes up with creative ways to use different materials. Jill handles plant material with respect and is very knowledgeable about the huge variety she incorporates into her work. She frequently travels with her job and uses the opportunity to research different design ideas and source unusual materials to use in her work. She is equally comfortable working in a traditional style as she is developing contemporary cutting edge interpretations, which is another testament of her adaptable nature.

FE Sector Learner of the Year – Hannah Parker, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Travel and Tourism

Hannah has always had a passion for learning new skills. She also isn’t afraid of a challenge, which is why she decided to embark on two full-time courses simultaneously - a Level 3 Travel & Tourism Extended Diploma and a Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing. Throughout her two-year courses at Lowestoft College, she remained up-to-date in both areas. Not only that, she achieved distinctions on all but one piece of work that she submitted. Her efforts earned her the 'Outstanding Achievement' award from the college at the end of her first year. She moved so quickly through the course material, that she asked to take on extra work to extend her knowledge. She completed two additional 60 hour units and one additional 60 hour qualification that she tackled on a distance-learning basis. She’s since moved on to university.

Employee of the Year- Melfyn Hughes, Level 4 Certificate in Leading the Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice

Melfyn embarked on a 12 month learner journey in January 2012 to discover how to quality assure a training programme he was responsible for within his role at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The programme helps to support and enhance the lives of recruits as young as 13 years old. Melfyn spent many hours researching and studying the role of an internal quality assurer and produced an extensive portfolio of evidence to support the hard work and dedication he has offered to the role. Melfyn is now Lead Internal Quality Assurer for North Wales and is in the process of getting the programme accredited. His tutor said that his professional attitude, dedication and hard work has clearly demonstrated excellence in learning and development and that Melfyn is a credit to his employer.

Apprentice of the Year – Tyler Mack, Level 2 NVQ Award/Certificate/Diploma in Business and Administration

Tyler got off to a rough start in his education, but soon found a path that he could excel in. He started Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship with Spencer Hayes Financial Services and quickly gained new skills. He progressed so rapidly that he finished his level 2 with three months still to go. He frequently takes on new job roles, including handling commission statements. He checks the statements before they are sent to the accountant. On one occasion, Tyler and the accountant came up with different figures. Tyler’s manager was so confident in his ability, he told the accountant to re-check his figures. It turned out that Tyler’s were in fact the correct figures. His manager’s confidence speaks volumes about the positive impact that Tyler makes each day at his workplace.

International Learner of the Year – Mr R V Samith Rajapaksha, Technician Diploma in Telecommunication Systems

A two-hour commute from a remote village in Sri Lanka has never discouraged Samith from training in telecommunications. His work is always at a high standard, and he excels. After completing his level 2 studies, Samith joined Sri Lanka Telecom as a trainee. He progressed rapidly and was soon allowed to perform tasks that were normally reserved for advanced technicians. He likes to teach others what he knows, and produced a basic handbook for telecom technicians based on what he learned. It was given to his classmates and helped them to prepare for exams. To fund his training, he works several part-time jobs which include farming in the paddy fields with his father. His dedication to learning and improving his skills surely means that Samith has a bright future ahead of him.

Best use of Technology in Learning – McDonald’s

Technology plays a crucial role for McDonald’s when training employees. It uses eLearning to teach everything from management to maths and English. Using technology provides numerous benefits for the learner, including allowing them to go at their own pace and accessing the content from anywhere. It also helps them learn in creative ways. When McDonald’s launched a new till system, it developed a video game with City & Guilds Kineo that let staff try out the system and get used to it before having to use it in front of customers. Not only did it help staff get familiar with the system, it also helped them shave an average of eight seconds off their service time. One employee said, ‘It really got the competitive edge going – we were talking about our scores after playing.’

City & Guilds Business Employer of the Year – Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s is passionate about helping its employees develop in their careers. It accomplishes this through extensive training, which has already helped more than 21,000 people to date. It’s the largest organisation that offers accredited learning by City & Guilds, and has also received a gold accreditation from ‘Investors in People’. It’s not stopping there, however. By 2020, it aims to train 100,000 staff members through an accredited learning solution. The benefits have already been great, both for staff development and for the business. One café team leader says he did barista training and was able to go back and teach his colleagues. As a result, customer complaints have dropped at the café by an amazing 75 per cent. Sainsbury’s continued commitment to its people makes it very deserving of this award.

Outstanding Achiever of the Year - Andrew Dennis, Tutor, Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills – Bricklaying

Andrew was selected as the Outstanding Achiever because of his dedication to equipping people with the skills they need to be successful. Most of the inmates he works with have negative views about education, but Andrew helps them foster a passion for learning new construction skills. He sees the potential in each learner and helps them develop respect and self-esteem. Andrew’s received numerous letters from ex-offenders who have completed his course and are now employed in the construction industry, which is a testament to his influence. He’s also developed an inmate mentoring programme, where those who have completed the course can elect to stay on and assist the next group. As part of this, they continue to improve their maths and English skills and complete a peer mentoring qualification. Andrew’s enthusiasm for helping the inmates develop is clearly having an impact; he has a 90% retention and achievement rate.

People’s Choice Award - Donna Coleman, Information Technology

The People’s Choice Award goes to Donna, who runs a successful centre for unemployed people as part of North Lancs Training Group. She’s passionate about helping people get what they need to succeed in work, from ICT skills to professional-looking CVs. One of her learners said that after uploading a new CV to the Job Centre website, she was contacted within an hour by an employer. And that’s just one of many success stories. Under her direction, the centre has gone from one classroom with 12 computers to four classrooms, complete with training kitchen and manufacturing hub. The centre boasts an impressive 96 percent success rate. By giving people employability skills, Donna has helped them overcome tremendous obstacles. A colleague describes her as ‘a mother hen’ and someone the students look up to because they know she truly cares.

Recognition of Centre Excellence – North Lancs Training Group

North Lancs Training Group has won the Centre of Excellence award for the third year in a row. They were chosen because of their commitment to outstanding teaching and learning. The Group goes the extra mile to prepare their learners for the world of work, which has resulted in the majority of them securing jobs. They have also helped learners gain the skills they need to set up their own businesses. As a result of their high-quality training, they consistently have high numbers of Medal for Excellence winners.