INSPIRATIONAL adult learners have been celebrated at a special ceremony.
The annual Family, Adult and Community Learning Awards in Sunderland heard stories of the life-changing journeys made by older students in the city.
Just over 200 people gathered at the event in the Marriott Hotel, Seaburn, to listen to how some finalists had beaten life-threatening addictions, overcome homelessness and serious illness.
Haley Woolley, winner of the Learner of the Year award, said: “Learning helped me by not dwelling on my health and gave me the drive to carry on.
“I met some great people who became friends. It was nice to talk to understanding and supportive people.
“On completing my course, it gave me the passion to want to continue with learning, and I have now started my Level Three Diploma this academic year.
“I am very glad I took the opportunity, and it has helped me through very difficult times.”
Sunderland City Council’s Family, Adult and Community Learning Service hosted the event, where TV presenter John Grundy was guest of honour.
The audience also listened to speeches by Keith Moore, executive director of children’s services at Sunderland City Council, Sandra Kenny, family adult and community learning manager, and Aaron Thompson, who took part in a Family Learning Course with his grandmother Doreen.
Sandra Kenny praised the winners for their hard work: “Our learners have not only transformed their own lives, but also the lives of people around them.
“They have inspired other people to take up the challenge and find out for themselves the difference that learning can make to them and their families. We are truly proud to be able to recognise and celebrate in their success.”
Family Adult and Community Learning works with more than 41 organisations across Sunderland to give people a chance to raise their aspirations, improve motivation and self-confidence as well as give them a better chance of landing a job.