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Learners who triumphed adversity recognised in Community Awards night


High achieving students studying courses through community providers in Rochdale were honoured at the annual Community Learning Awards.

The community learning schemes are courses financed by Hopwood Hall College and delivered by community organisations such as Acorn Academy, Rochdale Connections Trust and Link4Life.

Pictured: 2018 Community Learning Awards

During the awards night, many learners gave powerful speeches on how they had overcome life challenges such as addiction, abuse, moving to the UK for asylum or learning difficulties and disabilities.

The evening saw many attendees close to tears, as students recounted stories of their personal belief and determination to succeed, stories which too often go unnoticed in the surrounding communities.

Pictured: Nominated students at the 2018 Community Learning Awards.

One such student who personified this was Counselling Concepts student and the night’s Star of the Year Award winner, Deborah Leech, who gave a moving speech to the attending audience:

“When I was at school I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied ‘I don’t know’. That continued until the age of 50 until I attended a Level 2 Counselling course run by Acorn Academy and funded by Hopwood Hall College.

“I am an Alcoholic and have been in recovery for over 3 years. Alcohol took away every good thing in my life. Fortunately I was given the opportunity to go into Smithfield Detox Centre and then onto Acorn. As well as counselling and support, Acorn also offered me the chance to educate myself.

“I attended and my life has changed so much since that first class, beforehand I was frightened to even turn on a computer or do anything too technical. Now, I’ve progressed so much that I have been offered a place at The University of Salford, studying a Counselling with Psychotherapy Degree.

“I am extremely grateful for all the help I have been given by strangers, especially the ones in the background who decided that I was suitable to attend the counselling course.”

Pictured: Deborah Leech speaks to attendees.