Sunderland’s former Ipswich striker Wickham the man for awards

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: The Springboard Learner Awards winners at the presentation ceremony in the Roker Hotel.

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: The Springboard Learner Awards winners at the presentation ceremony in the Roker Hotel.

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SUNDERLAND striker Connor Wickham provided a festive treat for Sunderland’s hard-working students.

The £8million Stadium of Light star met more than 150 excited fans at the Roker Hotel for the annual Springboard Learner Awards Ceremony.

Organised by charitable trust Springboard Sunderland, the event recognised the achievement of young people and adults who have excelled in their learning programmes.

Denise Wilson, from Springboard, said: “The ceremony demonstrated the level of commitment of our learners in aspiring to reach their personal goals.

“It was great to see so any employers also attend, as without them realistic hands on experience would not be possible.”

Connor, 18, handed over the awards to those nominated for their “individual effort and achievement” while taking part in apprenticeship, alternative education and Excelr8 programmes.

The winners were nominated by employers, tutors, learners, placements and training staff throughout Springboard.

Those honoured included Andrew Johnston, 18, from Washington, who won Sport Apprentice of the Year; Gavin Dobbs, 17, from Town End Farm (Hospitality Apprentice of the Year); and Moiroma Begum, 19, from Hendon, who was highly commended in the Childcare Apprenticeship section.

City Hospitals Sunderland was named Employer of the Year.

Ms Wilson said: “We have worked with the hospital for over 30 years providing training places for young people from Sunderland. During that time thousands have had access to quality work placements and employment opportunities in a range of vocational areas.

“We were delighted to give this award to recognise the commitment the hospital has made over the years.”

Catherine Ather, work experience and apprentice manager from City Hospitals, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen this year. We work closely with Springboard to provide opportunities for young people as we realise they are the workforce of the future.”

Springboard delivers programmes for people wanting to develop their skills and prepare for a career in many areas including child care, digital print, horticulture, military service, hospitality, retail and warehousing.

Find out more about Springboard at www.springboard-ne.org.uk or call 515 5300.