Sunderland winners celebrate learning success

Shirley Jones, Christopher Chicken, Christine Ritchie, Kathleen Fowler, Sonia Ritchie-Park and Shelley Lillico with their certificates.
Shirley Jones, Christopher Chicken, Christine Ritchie, Kathleen Fowler, Sonia Ritchie-Park and Shelley Lillico with their certificates.
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A former homeless woman from Sunderland has won an award for her commitment to learning.

Kathleen Fowler, 49, picked up the Commitment to Learning trophy at the annual Celebration of Learning Awards, organised by One Awards.

All our nominees and winners this year demonstrated how much of a positive difference learning has made.

Louise Morritt

Swan Lodge in Sunderland was joint winner of the Commitment to Learning (group) award and Robyn Sterling, a student at Sunderland College, was joint winner of the Life Changing Learner under 24 award.

Fellow Sunderland College student Christopher Chicken was runner-up in the Life Changing Learning 24-plus category, and Ros Jackson, from the college, was runner-up in the Learner’s Choice section.

Through the personal stories of its nominees and winners, the Celebration of Learning Awards demonstrated how learning new skills – at all ages and for all abilities – has transformed and enriched people’s lives.

Kath, who was homeless and from a care background, was withdrawn and reluctant to embark on any formal training, but tutors at Swan Lodge in Sunderland discovered she loved cooking and persuaded her to join in a baking session.

She enjoyed it so much that within weeks she had signed up for a cookery course, and has now completed qualifications in maths and English.

Robyn, 24, always had a dream to become a children’s nurse, but lacked the qualifications, so left her family in Dover to enrol on an access to higher education programme at Sunderland College, and is now studying children’s nursing at university.

Christopher, 49, from Houghton, had a dream of working in healthcare.

Despite juggling a business and a family, he did pre-access and access to higher education courses and gained a place at university in York to study occupational therapy.

And, Ros, picked up her award after being described as an “inspirational tutor”.

Louise Morritt, chief executive Officer of One Awards, said: “We started the Celebration of Learning Awards in 2009 because over the years we were constantly amazed at the determination, commitment and triumphs of learners of all abilities and ages in the North East, and we wished their achievements to be recognised.”