A Northumberland College Animal Management student’s academic achievements and stand-out contribution to her local community has received national recognition.
Sophia Williams, who is studying an Advanced Technical Diploma in Animal Management at the college’s Kirkley Hall Campus, won the Lord Glenamara Pupil Technical Award after being praised by lecturers for her dedication to her studies and volunteering work with homelessness charity Crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the charity’s work at Christmas meaning they were unable to offer vulnerable people the opportunity to enjoy a traditional dinner, receive clothing, and see a doctor, hairdresser and dentist. Sophia, from Whitley Bay, worked as part of a small team to create 300 handmade hampers which food, toiletries and other essentials, which were then delivered with hot meals.
Wanting to do something extra special, the 18-year-old used her own money to put together sweet and chocolate bags and decorate the hampers to bring some festive joy to those most in need.
After receiving her award Sophia, who is aiming to become zoologist, said: “This award means more than an award to me on so many levels.
“I will never forget the belief my head of year and tutors had in me to achieve success. That belief gave me a renewed confidence and made me more determined than ever to push forward, work hard and achieve my goals.
“I was humbled by the experience of working with Crisis, and by the difference the hampers made to those less fortunate than myself. It was a lot of hard work but very rewarding and I will be volunteering again this Christmas.”
Northumberland College’s Vice Principal for Quality & Curriculum Lee Lister, who nominated Sophia for the Pupil Technical Award, added: “Sophia is truly deserving of this award. She has demonstrated outstanding academic performance on her course, and in both practical and theory lessons.
“In addition to her studies, Sophia has shown incredible dedication to helping society’s most vulnerable through her volunteering work which is having an amazing impact during a time of significant hardship for many people.
“Sophia is an asset and ambassador for our college, and we look forward to seeing how she progresses in the future.”
Introduced by the Department for Education in 2012, in memory of former Education Secretary and Newcastle MP Ted Short, the Lord Glenamara prize allows top talent from across the North East to take centre stage.
This year’s ceremony, which was presented virtually by Schools Minister Baroness Berridge, recognised the students achieving academic and vocational excellence and teachers inspiring their pupils, while making a profound difference to their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who appeared via video message to celebrate the year’s winners and congratulate them on their outstanding achievements, said: “This year’s Lord Glenamara prize winners have gone above and beyond to help their community during such a challenging year and should be immensely proud of their exceptional achievements.
“The students are testament to the enormous potential that exists in the North East. The teachers are incredible leaders, inspiring the pupils they work with and ensuring young people receive the support they need to fulfil their ambitions.
“As our Opportunity North East programme comes towards a close next year, I am sure all the young people, teachers and schools nominated, and winning awards will be at the forefront of the North East’s recovery from the pandemic.”
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