Adult learners honoured at awards ceremony

ALTHOUGH they didn't take home any of the top individual accolades, the hard work of a number of Berwickshire residents was recognised at the Adult Learner Awards which took place last Tuesday, March 23.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 31st March 2010, 11:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2010, 11:35 am

The awards, hosted by the Borders Adult Learning and Achievement Group at Selkirk's Victoria Hall, aimed to highlight the progress made by both learners and tutors throughout the region over the past year.

Although he missed out on the Young Learner silverware, 17 year old John James Renton from Leitholm made the shortlist after making major strides in trying to find employment.

John James started going to Community Learning and Development classes because he wanted to improve his chances of finding a job.

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After building up more skills, he is now concentrating on looking at job adverts and writing enquiry letters, as well as building up a CV and filling in application forms. His attendance is reliable and consistent, and he has nearly finished his 2 SQA units in communication.

His learning has been made much more interesting by the application of communication skills to his job search and his hobby – car modification, and now John James is using his new skills to aim for a mechanics course at college.

In the 'Individual 26 and over' category, Shiela Graham from Gordon was praised for all her hard work on Scottish Borders Elder Voice's newsletter.

Sheila is a retired teacher who has spent many years working as a volunteer for Elder Voice, the voluntary organisation which supports and inspires over 50's in the Borders community.

She is the editor of the newsletter, which meant developing her IT and publishing skills. She accessed tuition via SBC libraries, using the mobile van, and, as her proficiency developed, she gained more information online and through a Borders College Course.

Also on the shortlist was Paul Major from Coldstream. Paul (33) wanted to make some big changes his life, and with encouragement from Turning Point Borders, enrolled in Community Learning and Development classes to improve his chances of getting a job and a better quality of life.

Since last August, he has made good progress in writing skills, as well as learning about computers. He finds it easier to fill in forms, and has gained confidence in reading, so much so that he can read aloud in groups. He is now considering volunteering, as well as looking into further courses in computers and mechanics.

The highlight of the night for Berwickshire came with the announcement of the Voluntary Sector Award. This was presented to the Participation Theme Group, which included a number of youngsters from the area.

The six-strong group have been working together since the start of last year to ensure that there are high quality participation opportunities for young people across the Borders. They oversee the HYPPE Initiative – helping young people to participate and engage. Through this the group have developed an awareness of themselves and others, and are committed to the principles of community involvement.

Also nominated in the group category were Leitholm Patchwork Group.

The group consists of ladies who have gathered together to learn a new craft, and who have encouraged others to join in and learn too.

The group started as beginners who wanted to advance their knowledge of patchwork, but also to make it an enjoyable, social gathering.

In 2009, the fruits of their labours produced a quilt which was raffled and raised more than 250 for the village hall, and now they are working on a large wall hanging depicting places of interest which will be hung in the hall when it is completed.

And there was further good news for the group as their tutor, Jean Ross, received a Tutor Award.

Also on the shortlist for the group award were ESOL Eyemouth.

This group is made up of four young mothers who are studying to improve their English-speaking skills.

They work, look after their homes and families, and still manage to attend weekly classes in Eyemouth to achieve Access 3 ESOL Certification.

Their attendance has improved their confidence, leading to a growing sense of integration into the community, and an increased ability to speak to teachers, doctors, interpret for others and to take on new volunteering opportunities. They have encouraged others in a similar situation to follow their learning journey, and they intend to use their new skills to find employment.