Proof that it’s never too late to go back to learning was there to see at the recent Scottish Borders Adult Learners Awards ceremony.
For some people learning comes easy - for others there can be all sorts of obstacles to overcome and the awards celebrate those who have beaten the odds.
Veronica Blackwood, chair of the Adult Learners Awards, said: “Our winners this year have shown exceptional determination and proved that they can get back to learning. Some had not studied for years, some had to overcome enormous barriers to get there, but they are here tonight to show that they’ve succeeded!”
This year’s awards at Borders College, Galashiels, were divided into 10 sectors: Young Learner (Lewis Teckkham), Mature Learner (Willie Watson), Literacies (Kevin Davidson), SQA (Malcolm Baxter), Care (Joanne Allison), Learner in the Workplace (Dean Fisher), Voluntary (Adam Toua), Group sector (Galashiels Men’s Shed), English for Speakers of Other Languages (Miglena Velcheva-Bozhkova) and Overall Winner (Kaylee Brownlee).
Winners were presented with their awards by Julia Mulloy, chief executive of Scottish Borders Housing Association, who said: “Education isn’t a straight line. There are lots of routes to learning, and it is hard to learn away from the traditional system, but the achievements here tonight show how interesting those routes can be.”
Overall winner, Kaylee Brownlee, gave up a full time job to return to studying, and is now aiming to go on to university to study for a Masters Degree in business.
Greenlaw’s Dean Fisher not only gained a BA in Business Management in June 2014, after six years study at Borders College and Heriot Watt, he also won the Learner in the Workplace award. He is an administration/IT assistant at Scottish Borders Social Enterprise Chamber and plans to run his own business some day.
Dean has been a huge help to his mum, helping her to care for his disabled brother but despite this and problems at high school he has shown “incredible determination to succeed”.
Having recovered from a head injury, Willie Watson from Coldstream joined an SBC community and learning’s Second Chance Academy in Coldstream to study numeracy and re-learn his maths skills. His aim is to complete SQA level 4 numeracy, and find a part time job. But more than anything, his learning has given him renewed confidence and a more positive outlook on life.
Whitchester House Group has reintroduced a group of men to learning, despite difficulties such as dyslexia, limited education and low self esteem. Most had bad memories of education and learning, but they have achieved a great deal around communication – writing reading and speaking. They have learned how to operate laptops, use power point, create posters and produce written work. Older members are very supportive to new recruits to the group, and some have returned to Whitchester House as volunteers or employed workers and are achieving qualifications in health and social care.