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Suffolk: Emotional night for adult learners

15:49 24 June 2014

Suffolk Adult Learners

Suffolk Adult Learners' Award 2014 presentation. Winners at UCS award ceremony


Outstanding achievements celebrated at the Suffolk Adult Learners’ Awards 2014


Moving stories and outstanding achievements of adult learners, tutors and volunteers in Suffolk were recognised at the Suffolk Adult Learners’ Awards, held at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) on June 19.

The big winner of the night was Mark Voice, an inspiring young man who worked hard to come through incredibly low and trying times and has now achieved a place at UCS to study BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography.

Leap joined forces with the Suffolk Partnership for Informal Adult Learning (SPIAL) to organise the ceremony in celebration of National Adult Learners Week.

BBC Radio Suffolk Breakfast presenter and UCS Honorary Graduate, Mark Murphy, was the compère on the night and said of the evening: “What a truly inspirational evening. This event proves that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, people really can improve their lot. It is incredibly heart-warming.”

Mark Voice won the ‘Inspirational Learner of the Year Award’ as well as the big award for the night ‘Outstanding Learner of the Year’.

Mark first applied to attend university 20 years ago, but after being kicked out of home because of his sexuality.

And struggling to make his own way, he had to abandon his studies to pay the bills and his life went on a downward spiral.

After being introduced to ‘Focus12’ in Bury St Edmunds by his social worker, started volunteering at Gatehouse and enrolled onto the Access course at West Suffolk College.

He now has paid employment, the offer of his own flat and a place at UCS starting this September.

Mark Voice said: “I am still in shock but grateful and honoured to have received the award. It certainly puts the pressure on to carry on achieving during university. The access course gave me confidence, skills and the ability to apply for my lifelong ambition of studying to become a radiographer. The access course, although hard work, has been perfectly delivered, in ways that we can all understand, and have enabled a lot of people this year to get into university to follow their dreams too.

“The team at West Suffolk College have been absolutely amazing, and delivered a first class program.”

The ‘Outstanding Services to Adult Education and Training in Suffolk Award’ was presented to Christine Pinsent, co-ordinator of the Waveney Learning Community having started delivering training for Shell in Lowestoft and Becton over 40 years ago.

After taking redundancy from Shell, Christine was a Field Training Officer for Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations for 12 years until 2013 when SAVO became part of Community Action Suffolk, and is still the coordinator of the Waveney Learning Community. Christine has coordinated events In Waveney for the annual Adult Learners Week for 8 years and established a local Adult Learner Award ceremony. She has championed adult learning at a County level and provided formal and informal learning opportunities for countless people.

Christine said: “I am really pleased to be recognised for what I’ve done. I really enjoy it and will continue to do so. Thank you.”

Miles Cole, Leap Project manager, declared the fourth Suffolk Adult Learners’ Awards ceremony a fantastic success. He said: “The examples of how adult learning has transformed people’s lives are a credit not only to the hard work and perseverance of the leaners but also the commitment and dedication of all the tutors, volunteers and providers. It has never been more important to keep learning and gaining new skills and we look forward to next year’s celebration.”

“We would like to thank our award sponsors for their support, Adnams for sponsoring the drinks, The Ipswich Youth Steel Band, University Campus Suffolk for hosting the event and lastly, everyone who attended the event.”

A total of ten awards were presented on the night including; Frederick Charles as ‘65+ Learner of the Year’, John Player as ‘Tutor of the Year’, Karen Pears for the Learning at Work Award, The Aldeburgh Library Foundation as Learning Project of the Year, Malgorzata & Barbara Jakubowska for the Family Learners of the Year Award and Ben Driver as Volunteer of the Year.

To find out about adult learning opportunities in Suffolk, visit



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