Celebration of Learning

Award winners group 2016

In a ceremony organised by our Adult Community Education Service, we have recognised the achievements of Derbyshire residents who have changed their lives and those of others through learning. This took place as part of the Festival of Learning, which is a national celebration.


Learners from across the county had been nominated and their stories showed that by joining a local class they had since improved their career prospects or made a difference to their local community. Many had overcome health problems or conquered a fear of learning in order to gain new qualifications and skills.

Learners of the Year 2016

Jonathan Almond, Jeremy Knight, David Murfin, Matthew Noone, Micky Wilson

Jonathan, Jeremy, David, Matthew and Micky are a group of learners with a learning disability who started out as volunteers at the Derbyshire Eco Centre in 2011. They have gone on to achieve two qualifications in this time and are now embarking on their third! Through volunteering, and undertaking these qualifications, the learners help to maintain and improve the Eco Centre grounds through practical tasks such as paving, gardening, habitat management and tools maintenance. They have completed the Award and Certificate at Entry Level 3 in Practical Countryside Skills and are now in the process of completing their Diplomas.

Young Learner of the Year 2016

Gareth Maslbury

Gareth deserves recognition for the vast improvement he has made in his confidence and social skills, as well as the huge array of courses he has undertaken in order to achieve this. When Gareth first joined DACES, he was quiet and was reluctant to engage with staff or other members of the group. Since starting his course, his confidence and communication skills have increased immensely. He will now initiate conversation, he joins in with group discussions and helps out other members of the group with his computer knowledge. During his group discussion in English he took control of organising the preparations encouraging his classmates to decide what areas of the topic they wanted to work on. Gareth is now on a part time Study Programme and is currently in placement in the community at the Freedom Project in Bolsover.

How learning has been used by a person to move into, or on in, work

Claire Dilks

Claire has been accessing a variety of different Adult Education courses for nearly 10 years. In this time she has progressed through Childcare Levels 1, 2 and 3 and at the same time has been working hard to improve her English and maths skills. Claire has gained employment in a nursery where she is a valued member of staff, achieving employee of the year last Christmas. Claire is a wonderful practitioner and has shown real determination to maintain her studies and achieve her goal.

How learning has been used by a person to make a difference to their local community

Doreen Astle

Doreen achieved a Level 2 Certificate in Administration Certificate last year, researching independently her areas of interest for further professional development, and has returned this year to study the Level 2 Diploma in Administration. As well as often being approached by family and friends to produce professional-looking business letters, Doreen has developed skills in researching and filtering relevant information, emphasising and formatting text, printing and binding documents, which she has used to help her local community produce a rebuttal document against a planning application. As a direct result of this intervention, she has now been asked to sit on the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee for the village.

How learning has been used by a person to overcome personal challenge in people's lives

Stephanie Hunt

Stephanie has had a troubled childhood due to circumstances in the family home. She was withheld from formal education, never having attended primary school. She was bullied when briefly attending senior school because of her mixed culture and differences in social upbringing. In addition, she was previously diagnosed with autism, but it has recently been recognised that her problems may result from post-traumatic stress relating to childhood experiences. English classes have been therapeutic, enabling her to express her feelings in poetry and creative writing. She has been living in a women's refuge, but feels that she wants independence and is about to move into a new flat. She has been working as a volunteer in a cat rescue sanctuary and also worked in a charity shop, giving her chance to put designs together to help realise her ambition of becoming a fashion designer. She has been a dedicated student, demonstrating perception when contributing in speaking and listening.

Star learner from apprenticeship or traineeship programmes

Cassie White

Cassie works for Inspire Medical in Clay Cross, she has a very responsible role in the company and has worked extremely hard on every task that has been set for her − she has overcome her lack of confidence and has really contributed to the business, coming up with lots of new ideas to help the company develop. Her employer is extremely impressed with her progress and she should be proud of her achievement to date. Cassie deserves recognition for all the hard work she has put into the apprenticeship to date and is looking at moving further on with her learning once she has completed her current studies.