St Albans author hands out awards to Oaklands College staff and students

The students and staff at the Oaklands College Celebration of Success ceremony. Picture: Lello Ametr

The students and staff at the Oaklands College Celebration of Success ceremony. Picture: Lello Ametrano. - Credit: Archant

St Albans author Stacey Turner presented awards to the best and brightest of Oaklands College staff and students at their end of year ceremony.

The Celebration of Success event featured winners who were commended for their commitment, impact and tenacity.

In her opening speech, Stacey said: “Every time I am interviewed or asked to make a speech, I wish I could produce a crystal ball containing flashes of moments that have defined my journey.

“You’d see the moment I was told I was ugly. The moment I was told I’d never amount to anything. That I lost my father in tragic circumstances at 13. I went to nine different schools and that only includes primary and secondary. The anxiety and depression at times. You’d see all the set backs, knock backs and noes. The dedication, the blood, sweat and tears, hours of hard work, often through the night, and mostly without reward.

“I have had 47 letters saying ‘thank you for your submission Mrs Turner, however we are unable to proceed to publishing with you at this time’.

“I was determined not to allow the sharpness of these moments deter or hold me back. I’ve really amazed myself and soon I will be celebrating my second book.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask for help and talk. Don’t wait for the yesses, go out and get them. Don’t compare yourself or your journey to others. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to tell yourself who you are.

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“Do put things in place to support your personal, academic and professional journey. Believe in yourself, you’re stronger than you realise and so much more than you know.

“If someone says no, it’s not meant for you right now, trust your journey and appreciate every step of the way. Look after your mind and have hope. Know that it’s OK to feel unsure and disheartened.

”Faced with any type of adversity, you can step forwards. You never know who you’re going to meet and what doors of opportunity are going to open for you.”

Among the award winners, A-Level student Oliver Bowbrick took the department’s trophy, after accepting an unconditional offer to study at Cambridge.

Level two animal care student Kieran Grattan received the Landbased Award for his commitment to the college and passion for learning.

The Principal’s Award went to level four business administration apprentice George Giles for taking the lead in events management for the college’s annual Summer Fair, which attracted around 8,000 visitors.

Director of entry-level studies Carole Jones was awarded the Chair’s Award for her “tenacious and innovative approach” in supporting young people with complex support needs.

Carpentry and joinery technician Peter Templeman was specially recognised after being awarded with a British Empire Medal for services to technical education in the 2018 Birthday Honours List.

College principal Zoe Hancock said: “Success comes in many forms – overcoming obstacles, personal development, leading by example as well as academic success.

“Our end of year awards ceremony celebrates all the hard work that goes into enabling our students to reach their full potential.”

The college has donated £1,000 to the Bradley Lowery Foundation to help Siobhan Mather, a St Albans girl suffering from neuroblastoma.

Stacey said: “I am incredibly fortunate to collaborate with various people and community organisations, like Oaklands College, and witness the impact of my work.

“My involvement within the community has lead me to meet inspiring people to include a little girl named Siobhan, who is three-years-old and fighting stage four neuroblastoma, currently on her second round of chemotherapy.

“I joined Siobhan’s fight many months ago by creating the princess campaign.

“One of the characters in my book dresses as a princess, so I decided Siobhan must have her very own princess, in the hope of helping to raise towards the goal of £400,000 as much of her treatment is unavailable on the NHS.

“With help, the princess campaign reached Australia, Asia and America and has brought in generous donations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Oaklands College for their generous donation of £1,000 to Siobhan on my behalf.”