A night of celebration: 2013 Lion Award winners

The Lion Awards Dinner took place on Wednesday 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 2013 are:

Apprentice of the Year

Daniel Keane

Level 2 NVQ in

Automotive Maintenance and Repair - Light Vehicle

Daniel left school unable to read and write but through his apprenticeship, he has gone on to shine. Throughout his learning, he has demonstrated excellent practical skills. His tutors even said the level of work he was operating at was akin to a master technician. Daniel has shown a natural ability during his apprenticeship, and is now able to diagnose faults first time and repair them with confidence.

In addition, thanks to his determination to be the best, within weeks of being in college and receiving one-to-one support, he was able to read and write clearly. Daniel’s employer says he is ‘one of the best he has ever seen’, and his enthusiasm, confidence and willingness to help his team has inspired those around him.

FE Sector Learner of the Year

Andrew Gilmour

Certificate in Community Justice

After years of homelessness, drug addiction and imprisonment, Andrew has changed his life for the better. Although he left school at 13 with no qualifications, he always knew he was capable of more. So, in September 2011, he enrolled at K College to study for a Certificate in Community Justice.

Andrew’s tutors were impressed with his ability to consistently produce outstanding work. His commitment to learning and his sense of humour helped him become a role model to his peers. He has since completed his Certificate and now works with others in the community who struggle with addiction. Thanks to his determination, he undoubtedly has a bright future.

Community Supporter of the Year

Kerry Hilton

Tutor, Employability and Personal Development Qualifications

Kerry has worked within the learning disabilities environment for 15 years and is fully committed to supporting all of her learners to help them succeed. Now working with Barchester Healthcare to deliver employability and personal development qualifications, Kerry doesn’t see that a learning disability should stand in the way of further development. By understanding the individuality of each of her learners, she has been able to use their hobbies and passions to generate enthusiasm for learning. Her can-do attitude and creativity has undoubtedly enhanced the learners’ experiences.

This is the first time that Barchester Healthcare has offered development programmes for the people that live in their care homes. However thanks to Kerry’s impressive work, homes all over the country are now keen to get involved.

Creative Craftsperson of the Year

Jonathan Batten

Level 1 Certificate in Creative Techniques

Jonathan had always been keen on jewellery making, following a foundation art course some years ago. However, instead of pursuing his dream he decided to focus on being a sculptor. Many years later, he took a short course in jewellery making and was re-inspired. He went on to take the City & Guilds qualification – something that he calls ‘the most inspiring of experiences’. 

Throughout his course, Jonathan’s practical work maintained a consistently high standard for a Level 1 learner. He was always eager to develop his skills as far as possible, looking into different technical aspects of jewellery making, and transferring skills from his sculpture work into his jewellery.

He was recognised by the judges not just for his versatility and adaptability, but also for the high level of creativity that has shone through his work.

ILM Learner of the Year

Hazel Waddington

Principle Income Management Services Manager, Bolton at Home

Hazel Waddington took an ILM Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management through Training by Design Ltd when she was Neighbour Services Team Leader with Eastlands Homes - a housing association with 8000 properties in Manchester. Her enthusiasm and genuine interest in learning took the Certificate far beyond the confines of the training room, enabling her to gain knowledge, confidence, and even a new job. Hazel put all of the knowledge and skills that she gained into practice and has seen impressive results. For example, having taken steps to encourage and empower her team at Eastland Homes, they were able to reduce the company’s arrears by £500,000 in just 15 months.

Thanks to her success, she was successful in achieving her current management role at Bolton at Home, where she now manages a team of 45 people.

Innovator of the Year

Maria O’Boyle

Tutor, Skills for Work and Life

Maria worked tirelessly for the rights of learners and engaged many who were failed by the education process. Her innovation and originality in teaching allowed her to reach learners in a unique way. Many of her learners say they couldn’t have completed a qualification without her caring guidance.

She has unfortunately passed away after suffering from a serious medical condition, which she succumbed to only a few weeks ago. Her colleagues said she never let her health challenges hold her back and that she always made people feel good about themselves. As one co-worker said: ‘There will never be anyone like Maria in all our lives. She was a real inspiration to everyone who walked in her path of life.’

International Learner of the Year

Lydia Richardson

Level 3 IVQ Technician Diploma in Engineering

Lydia has always been passionate about learning. Her dedication, coupled with originality and professionalism, has left a lasting impression on her lecturers. She received her first degree in Management and Finance, followed by a master’s degree in Project Management. Soon afterwards, she realised that engineering credentials would make her more competitive, and decided to enrol for the City & Guilds qualification. 

Even though she encountered numerous obstacles during her learning, she has persevered and hopes her journey will inspire others. In the future, she wants to motivate other young people in Trinidad & Tobago to gain as much education as possible.

Employee Learner of the Year

Morgan Titterington

Level 2 QCF Certificate in Warehousing and Storage

Having overcome both illness and bullies during her previous learning experiences, Morgan started a warehouse apprenticeship. She was worried about training but knew it would help her be successful. To boost her skills even further she studied numeracy, literacy, first aid and fire safety alongside her Certificate in Warehousing.

Following her training, Morgan was keen to put her skills into practice to help her company save money. For example she realised that if the company used cheaper stationery, they could save £7200 a year. Morgan has transformed from a shy introvert to a respected member of the work team, overcoming challenges to thrive in her role. Her commitment has earned her a full-time position at the company after she completes the apprenticeship.

Small Business Learner of the Year

Helen Wynne

Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Wales & Northern Ireland)

Helen’s son Dyfan was born with a disability so rare, that he is the only child in the country affected. After having problems trying to find appropriate childcare provision for him, Helen took matters into her own hands and set up a childminding business – Blyths Wood Childminding – specialising in caring for children with disabilities and additional needs. 

She wanted her business to be adaptable and flexible to meet the requirements of the children and families in her care. As a result, she has undertaken extensive additional training to meet the needs of each child she looks after. Furthermore, she offers services in other areas, such as Zumba classes for parents as a form of relaxation and exercise. Her business has certainly filled a gap in the market, and through her qualifications she has gained the knowledge and confidence she needs to make it a huge success.

Employer of the Year


Tesco’s training programmes have been developed to enhance their business performance and help to solve industry skills gaps. Working with City & Guilds, they have a well-established apprenticeship programme which has grown year-on year since its launch nine years ago. This year alone, they have offered 4700 apprenticeships, and they hope this will increase to 5300 next year. The apprenticeship programme is available to all staff, irrespective of whether they are eligible for funding. As a result, employees across all age groups have had the chance to gain a well-renowned qualification.

As an organisation, Tesco has undoubtedly seen the benefits apprenticeships can deliver, from higher levels of staff satisfaction and a decrease in turnover, to increased engagement with development and progression. In fact, over 30% of their apprentices have undertaken further development to enhance their careers.

Tutor of the Year

Val Ford

Tutor, Level 3 Diploma in Independent Advocacy (Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy – Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards)

Val has always had a passion for helping others succeed. After 10 years of working with adults with mental health needs, she used her experience to create an advocacy qualification. Now, as a tutor, she looks for opportunities to bring out the best in her learners. 

Just one example of this is how she helped a learner who was ‘petrified of the course’ because teachers had told him in the past that he was ‘thick’ and ‘stupid.’ Val was able to adapt the course assessments to fit the learner’s abilities. Not only did he receive the qualification, he also gained confidence. Val’s flexible and person-centred approach has helped her inspire countless learners to overcome barriers and achieve.

Recognition of Centre Excellence

North Lancashire Training Group

Now in its second year, this category recognises the college or training provider that 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 five medallists, making them the winners for the second year in a row. This is testament to the high-quality of teaching and the dedication of tutors to helping their learners succeed.

People’s Choice Award

George Wingfield

Tutor, Plumbing

George took his plumbing apprenticeship in 1963 and gained an Advanced Craft Certificate, achieving an impressive six distinctions. He has worked in plumbing for over 50 years, with his career spanning domestic, industrial and marine plumbing. He even won the title of ‘Britain’s favourite plumber’ in 1992.

Since 2003 he has been sharing his expertise with others by teaching plumbing at West Cheshire College to people of all ages, and of all backgrounds. Through his teaching, George is committed to bringing the subject to life. He uses a variety of resources to make the learning journey interesting and fun, and draws on his extensive experience to give his learners a sense of a real working environment.

Outstanding Achiever of the Year

Helen Wynne

Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Wales & Northern Ireland)

Helen was selected as the Outstanding Achiever because of her dedication to making her business a success, and the innovative steps she has taken to develop it. Since setting up Blyths Wood Childminding, she has worked tirelessly to develop her skills to provide an exceptional service to both the children in her care and their parents. She doesn’t just care for the children – she wants to help them achieve their potential, whatever their needs. No stranger to awards, Helen won the ‘Achieving Mum of the Year’ award from Tesco in 2012 and has received widespread recognition for her amazing work in her local area.

Speaking about Helen’s inspirational achievements, her tutor Catherine Rowell called her ‘an advocate for families,’ who ‘demonstrates exceptional knowledge of children with additional needs and disabilities.’