berwickshire was well represented at the 12th Borders Adult Learners awards ceremony last week proving once again that people in the district don’t stop learning when the school or college doors close.
For many of the 24 people nominated for awards this is when their learning started, and for others, going back to try something new may not have happened for many years but when it did happen they grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Berwickshire had two winners - Cecilia de Abreu Correira from Duns and the Lanark Lodge Magazine Group also from Duns; and altogether there were seven nominated individuals and groups from the district.
Cecilia De Abreu Correira, who won the Mature Learner Award, came to Scotland from Venezuela with her three young boys, four years ago.
She left a very difficult and dangerous situation and since she arrived has been determined to learn the language, keep up to date with technology and integrate into the community.
Along with a basic computer course, she also started art classes and now contributes a great deal to the local community and is able to look positively to the future.
She has mastered the language and can communicate with her family at home on the computer. Meanwhile, she continues to be part of the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) group where she meets others in a similar situation.
The Lanark Lodge Magazine Group from Duns won the Group Award after publishing their own magazine for friends and family.
The group consists of eight service users from Lanark Lodge and their support staff.
Some have difficulty in communicating, knowing what to say and how to say it, far less writing it down but so far they have produced three editions of the magazine featuring articles on local groups, housing, places to visit etc. Their writing and communication skills are improved as a result and members of the group are rightly very proud of their achievement.
The Adult Learning awards celebrate a different way to learn and the winners from each of the four sections were presented with their awards by Danny Logue, Skills Development Scotland’s operational director.
A spokesperson from Volunteer Centre Borders said: “It was a night of celebration – and proof that achievement can be found outside traditional education methods, as long as the will and determination to succeed is there.
“Danny’s lifetime involvement with the careers sector made him an excellent keynote speaker at the event, and past award winners also spoke about how their lives had developed since they became involved with Adult Learners.
“The overall winner was Andrew Paterson from Galashiels. Anxiety and confidence issues meant that he found it difficult to learn in school. Home tutoring helped but the turning point for him was being referred to the Get Ready for Work Programme (Community Learning and Development, SBC).
“His tutor built up his skills slowly, and with an increase in self-belief, Andrew was able to take on a college course, and work placements.
“He showed incredible determination to overcome his fears – starting a placement at Scottish Borders Council was a major hurdle to him – and he took on the challenge of every opportunity offered to him. He will now move on to an HNC in NC Digital Media in August.”
Andrew was presented with a beautiful carved wood trophy made by Graham Murdoch from the Real Wood Studios.
Veronica Blackwood, chair of the awards committee acknowledged how difficult it had been to make one person the overall winner.
“All the nominees are inspirational learners.” she said.
“They have all chosen different routes to learning but the one thing they all have in common is that they have achieved a great deal.”
Other winners were: Allan Donnelly (Selkirk), SQA Award; Matthew Holmes (Innerleithen) Young Learner in the Workplace Award; Murray Shiells (St Boswells) Young Learner Award (16-25); Pamela Casson (Hawick) Care Sector Award; Kevin Currie (Denholm) Literacies Award; Christian Nicol (Peebles) Voluntary Sector Award; Cecilia de Abreu Correira (Duns) Mature Learner Award; and Lanark Lodge Magazine Group (Duns) won the Group Award.
Berwickshire nominees included Sarah Bolton from Coldstream in the individual award age group 26-49.
Forty eight year old Sarah, 48, joined the Second Chance Academy – the Adult Learning Group in Coldstream following brain injury after an accident. She wanted to ‘retrain her brain’ by working on computer and writing skills, and now as well as taking charge of her own learning she also shares her knowledge with others, both in the learning group and at Momentum.
Robert Kershaw (aged 26) lives with his parents outside Lauder, and it has been his involvement with Westruther Community Players and other community projects that has helped him overcome his learning difficulties. Robert is also part of the family side-car racing team.
As well as Cecilia De Abreu Correrira, who won the Mature Learner Award, Berwickshire had two other worthy nominees in that category: 58 year old Ronald Aitchison from Chirnside who joined Duns Library’s ‘Get Clicking’ course, an introduction to learning computers in libraries; and Mary Walker from Gordon, who also joined the ‘Get Clicking’ course in Duns Library and has now progressed to ‘Get Surfing’.
In the Group Award section Berwickshire was very well represented and as well as having the section winners - The Lanark Lodge Magazine Group - Eyemouth Creche Bank and Lanark Lodge Literacy Learners were also nominated.
Eyemouth Creche Bank is a group of mums of pre-school and primary school children, some of whom have not worked since starting their families. To prepare themselves for returning to work they have taken up learning opportunities and took part in an ‘Introduction to Childcare’ course, Health Issues in the Community, followed by a training plan provided by Healthy Living Network and Community Learning and Development (SBC).
Now they have progressed to part-time employment with both organisations, gaining valuable work experience and at the same time providing crèche facilities to allow other parents to also take part in learning opportunities.
Lanark Lodge Literacy Learners (4Ls) is a support group for individuals with learning difficulties and physical difficulties by reading to each other, discussing various things and starting a book and film review club.
The Adult Learners Awards are sponsored by: Skills Development Scotland; Cranshaws, Ellemford & Longformacus Community Association; Borders Production Unit, Scottish Borders Council; Borders College; Community Learning and Development,SBC; Volunteer Centre Borders; Learning for All; Borders Learning Network; Eildon Housing Association; Scottish Qualifications Authority; Real Wood Studios, Ancrum.