Celebrations for winners of Weston College’s business awards

PUBLISHED: 13:30 20 June 2014

Mike Jackson, James Childs, Iris Hobb and Jude Ferguson.

Mike Jackson, James Childs, Iris Hobb and Jude Ferguson.

Weston College

OUTSTANDING achievements in the world of work were celebrated during Weston College’s business awards.

The Winter Gardens was decked out to welcome apprentices, finalists and businesses from across the region, and one of the biggest winners of the night was Weston lad James Childs.

The 23-year-old works at his family’s business Whitecross Bakery and despite dealing with severe dyslexia and undergoing two major operations, he won the Hospitality and Catering Learner of the Year, as well as the Principal’s Award for Learner of the Year.

He said: “These awards are so unexpected and I’m over the moon to have won.

“I’ve just finished my apprenticeship with Weston College and it was really worth doing because it’s taught me so much about the business side of running a bakery.”

The bakery is owned by James’ grandmother Iris Hobb and she accompanied James on stage to receive his trophies.

She said: “I’ve been in tears of pride for James. He has come through a lot and achieved so much, and he just has it in him.”

Guests were treated to a vocal performance by students from the college’s Wessex Academy of Performing Arts and the event’s speakers included Mike Jackson, chief executive of North Somerset Council, who said apprenticeships have a key part to play in new opportunities for business in the area.

The college has now surpassed its target of creating 100 apprenticeships in 100 days well before the closing date, but is still pushing ahead and aims to achieve more in a campaign which has been supported by the Mercury.

Another of the night’s big winners was 38-year-old Claire Thompson, who took the Principal’s Award for Distance Travelled in Learning.

Son Liam has severe cerebral palsy and she has used her experience looking after him in her job at Baytree Community Special School, where she is a teaching assistant.

Claire, who has just finished an NVQ qualification at the college, said: “There are very few jobs that you look forward to every morning, but mine is one of those. Liam is now 20, and all those years of adapting to his needs have been so useful in my current job.”

Medical products distributor Freelance Surgical, based in Wrington, took home the Apprentice Ambassador Award and Principal’s Award for Employer of the Year.

College principal Dr Paul Phillips said: “Our vision, in partnership with employers and stakeholders, is to deliver training to meet the needs and challenges of business today and the future.”

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