Former Pembrokeshire College student, Mair Elliott was among the UK’s top students to be honoured at a special awards ceremony in Manchester last week.
Seventy-six finalists travelled across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to attend the British Education Awards, on 31st January, many having to contend with adverse winter weather in order to celebrate the occasion.
Students and their families mingled with celebrities, educators and politicians at the iconic Beetham Tower, at Hilton Manchester Deansgate, ready to hear the winners of BEA 2019 announced.
Twenty winners were presented with a trophy by an array of politicians, leading education professionals and celebrities from the world of television and sport.
Former College Access to HE Biosciences student Mair impressed judges with how her experiences of autism and mental illness have propelled her to become a powerful advocate and campaigner raising awareness to improve outcomes and break down stigma for sufferers. Mair has spoken at the House of Lords, contributed to a BAFTA-winning S4C programme, and provides a voice on numerous forums as well as co-authoring a report.
Judges commented: “we hope Mair’s success at BEA2019 will further inspire Pembrokeshire College students in their educational pursuits and encourage them to participate in our future Award events”.
Five nominees also received Special Achievement awards. These awards pay special tribute to students who have overcome a range of particularly difficult circumstances and personal challenges during their education, making their accomplishments all the more remarkable.
Now in its third year, British Education Awards recognises the outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements of students across five award categories, including GCSE or Scottish National 5, A Level or Scottish Advanced Higher, Vocational and Degree.
At BEA 2019 all Finalists had demonstrated an extremely high level of discipline in order to achieve top grades, and this was further highlighted when taken in context with their extensive extracurricular responsibilities. These ranged from membership of the Girl Guides and RAF Cadets and volunteering within the community, to participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, entering national and international competitions, and numerous drama, music and sporting commitments.
The judging panel was also impressed by the extra measures students had taken to advance their learning, with many having undertaken additional study and work placements to achieve their goals. They had also shown significant dedication to mentoring and supporting fellow students through peer study groups, after school clubs and societies.
Around 400 guests gathered for the red carpet gala event and enjoyed a three-course dinner and entertainment. The awards were co-hosted by BBC television and radio presenter Kevin Fitzpatrick, and Professor Basma Ellahi, who is an expert in public health and nutrition from the University of Chester.
The prestigious Manchester ceremony was also attended by teachers, principals and university professors from across the country, as well as government officials.
Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams, who presented in the Wales A Level award category, commented: “These awards are the perfect opportunity to praise our students for all of their hard work – they should be so proud. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to recognise the support of their friends and family, and the fantastic work of our educators who work day in and day out to ensure these students reach their full potential.”
Organisers at British Education Awards 2019 were delighted to gain the backing of UK and global organisations, welcoming a return from the Royal Air Force as sponsor of the Vocational award; international industrial gas company Air Products as sponsor of the A Level and Special Achievement awards, and international education charity Al-Habeeb Foundation as sponsor of the Degree category.
RAF Squadron Leader Amir Khan, speaking after the Awards, said it had been “An outstanding evening surpassing last year’s event. The British Education Awards continues to be a platform for celebrating and recognising exceptional academic ability and social awareness in today’s young adult population. The RAF has a proud tradition of lifelong learning and actively encourages further education with support from our Enhanced Learning Credits and our Award Winning Apprenticeship Schemes.”