Pensioner who is studying for his English GCSE aged 76 among award winners at Northampton College

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A 76-year-old pensioner determined to finally gain an English qualification after years of trying was among the 69 award winners at this year’s Northampton College Awards.

Charles Ruse, who passed his level 1 exam and is now studying for his English GCSE, is just one example of the commitment and dedication showcased at the Northampton College annual awards event on Friday, November 27.

Other award winners included:

* Theatre student Paris Brown, who sat one of her exams the day after giving birth to her son, who is now aged two.

* Hairdressing student David Brown, who was already running a successful business when he joined the College but wanted formal qualifications to help him grow his business.

* Applied science student Onni Rahni who, on one occasion, managed to get to college on the day her home caught fire – wearing borrowed clothes and brandishing singed homework.

* Students who have used their college work experience placements to secure employment, as well as students who have impressed purely because of grades and commitment.

Principal Pat Brennan-Barratt said: “A stunning display of talent and determination has been showcased at this event and it has been a real privilege to hear so many inspiring stories and to hear about the progress our students have made, both personally and academically.”

In addition to the main awards categories, there was a series of special awards to recognise outstanding achievements. These included best overall progress, best apprentice, the best progress in maths and the most public-spirited student.

More than 250 guests attended the event at Northampton College’s Booth Lane Campus and the 13 themed awards were each sponsored by a local business. These sponsors were Opus Energy, Saints Rugby Club, Briggs & Forrester, Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, Recol Engineering, Coca-Cola Enterprises, XPO Logistics, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), Hopwells, Knorr-Bremse, Oakleaf Care and Church’s Shoes.

Finally, the Katy Wright Award was presented to mature student Alison Ward, who joined the Access to Health Professions course with the goal of becoming a midwife. This special award is given in memory of former Northampton College tutor Katy, who sadly died three years ago after a long illness. Katy’s parents, John and Anne Wright, have endowed the College with a fund to support an annual award in their daughter’s name.