Durham student shows he’s a star at the Abilympics

From left, judge Emma Allen, Ben Joyce, and his lecturer Colin Galley.

From left, judge Emma Allen, Ben Joyce, and his lecturer Colin Galley.

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A student from New College Durham is one of the best in the world after competing at the Abilympics in Bordeaux.

Ben Joyce successfully demonstrated his skills in data processing against competitors from 45 different countries, and achieved sixth place (second in Europe), in the largest skills competition in the world.

The 17-year-old, who has a learning disability, took part in the competition after winning gold at the UK final of WorldSkills in Birmingham.

He is currently studying Vocational Access Level 1 ICT at New College Durham.

Ben, from Newton Hall, spent several months preparing for the competition.

He said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to represent the UK at the Abilympics, it was not easy but I am glad I was able to compete. The support I have had from college has been amazing.”

International Abilympics competitions – Olympics of Abilities – are skills competitions for people with disabilities and special needs. This year is the first time the UK has entered.

John Widdowson, principal and chief executive of New College Durham, said: “This is a really fantastic achievement.

“Ben has been a great representative of both his country and his college. He has shown what can be done with hard work and enthusiasm, competing with the best in the world in this field.

“As one of the first two competitors ever to participate in this competition from the UK, Ben has shown the way forward for many more competitors in future years.”

Colin Galley, vocational access lecturer at New College Durham, said: “To compete at an international level and showcase the skills and talents of what Ben has achieved in his journey to the Abilympics has been an excellent experience.

“We are all proud of what Ben has achieved, and to get the result he did is overwhelming.”

For more information about vocational access courses, contact 0191 375 4040, www.newcollegedurham.ac.uk or visit the open event on Tuesday, from 5pm to 7pm.