Sunderland housing group gentoo honoured for community work

Joanna Lumley and James Cordin presented Gentoo's Pat Havord and Peter Walls with the National Education Award. Also pictured are BITC Chief Executive Stephen Howard and judges chairman Richard Hardie.

Joanna Lumley and James Cordin presented Gentoo's Pat Havord and Peter Walls with the National Education Award. Also pictured are BITC Chief Executive Stephen Howard and judges chairman Richard Hardie.

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GENTOO has been honoured for its commitment to the community.

The housing company was named overall winner in the education category, at Business in the Community’s annual Responsible Business Awards Gala Dinner in London.

The event, co-hosted by Joanna Lumley and comedian James Corden, saw an audience of 1,000 gather at The Royal Albert Hall.

Gentoo sponsors Pennywell’s Academy 360, which saw 93 per cent of students gain five or more GCSEs in 2012 – four times the best previous result.

Chief executive Peter Walls said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised for our commitment to work and learning – not just for us at Gentoo but for everyone we reach. We were up against a stellar list of companies for the Education Award which makes it even more special.

“As well as our work with Academy 360, we have provided over 100 work experience placements and created 48 supported apprenticeships and five high quality internships for young people in our city.”

Judging panel chairman Richard Hardie said: “An inspiring demonstration of a strategic partnership between a small business and an individual school, Gentoo’s Academy 360 has raised the educational standards, improved the employability of over 900 young people and created high quality work experience and apprenticeship placements,” he said.

“It has also reduced antisocial behaviour and stimulated the local housing market.”

Business in the Community chief executive Stephen Howard said: “Award-winning companies are drawn from a range of sectors, but what they share is an understanding of the critical importance of responsible leadership, a willingness to boldly re-imagine what traditional business practice looks like, and a genuine commitment to driving innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.

“Gentoo should be proud of winning the Education Award and demonstrating that business truly can be a force for good.”