Oaklands College invited a trio of special guests to its Welwyn Garden City campus to acknowledge its annual Celebration of Success awards ceremony.
The evening began with an exquisite drinks and food buffet, served by Oaklands College catering providers Chartwells, before a fantastic performance by Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing & Production Arts student Shaun Foley, which began the ceremony proceedings.
The Celebration of Success ceremony is an annual event which acknowledges the fantastic achievements by students and staff members.
Oaklands College Principal and Chief Executive Zoe Hancock said: "We have so many fantastic students who have achieved a great deal during their time at College. Tonight, we are celebrating those whose dedication, commitment and sheer hard work have enabled them to reach their full potential."
"The College owes its success to the great work that our staff do. Tonight, we will recognise just a few of them who have done something particularly special. We thank them for all that they do to help our students achieve their best."
Zoe was joined by popular and local EastEnders actress Kellie Bright, who is famed for playing the role as Linda Carter in the popular television drama, as well as previously starring in Les Misérables and The Upper Hand, to name a few.
The "Best Actress" and "Best Dramatic Performance" winner at the 2015 British Soap Awards said: "I did not know quite what to expect when I arrived as this is my first time visiting, but I was so surprised by how much Oaklands College do and impressed by the diverse range of students and their individual successes.
I was incredibly moved by how the awards ceremony encompasses the whole college and recognises the success of both students and staff members!"
As part of tradition at Oaklands, the college was delighted to donate £1,000 to a fundraiser of Kellie's choice.
Close to her heart, Kellie chose to contribute to the fundraising efforts of her close friend, 'Huxley the little Hero', a charming 2-year-old from Surbiton who was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, with global developmental delay, further donations can be made to their fundraising page here
With over 30 different award winners, the ceremony served as a glowing tribute to the ongoing success of Oaklands College students, from a variety of backgrounds and learning difficulties.
The Principal's Award was handed to Springfield learner, Abdullah Safaya. Before arriving at Oaklands College, Abdullah had never attended school or had any formal education.
A truly inspirational student, Abdullah was born and lived in Syria until 2013, when his family decided to leave the country due to the effects of civil war. Abdullah fully embraced all aspects of learning and opportunities given, improving his maths skills and surprising students and staff with his ability to learn and speak the English language.
Principal Zoe said: "Despite these struggles, he has always been a delightful, happy and appreciative young man, who for the first time in his life is now walking with the aid of a frame."
Eight-time Paralympic medal winner and former Equine student Thomas Miller was awarded the Chair's Award, for his incredible Oaklands College journey, progressing from a student to working as a volunteer at the on-site Olympic standard Equine Facilities.
Coordinator in Early Years Mandy Bassett was awarded the Outstanding Lecturer Award, nominated by Director of Integration and Progression; Nicola Caiger.
Nicola said: "Mandy is in her third year of teaching and is an extremely dedicated member of staff. Many works closely with her students, encourages and supports them to achieve their full potential. Mandy's high standards are evident in her teaching practice and the skills and knowledge she passes onto her students."
Finally, the Special Recognition Award was reserved for long-serving employee of 24 years, Kerry Lowe. Kerry joined as a lunch-time assistant with the Springfield provision and leaves as Head of Springfield and Supportive Learning.
Principal Zoe said: "Kerry is extremely passionate about her students and her team and it has been a privilege to work closely with her and see first-hand what a difference she has made to students and their families."
The full winners were as follows:
Access to HE, Applied Science and ICT Award
Art, Fashion and Design Award
Business and Travel & Tourism Award
Community Learning Award
Construction (Carpentry & Joinery, Painting & Decorating, Trowel Trades & Motor Vehicle) Award
Construction (Electrical Installation and Plumbing) Award
Construction Management, Engineering & Civil Engineering Award
Early Years Award
Hair & Beauty Award
Health & Social Care Award
Higher Education Award
Hospitality & Catering Award
Media, Music & Performing Arts Award
Public Services Award
Sports Academy Award
Student Union Award
The Edge Award
The Apprenticeship Award
Outstanding Quality and Resources Employee Award
Outstanding Support to Student Award
Outstanding Lecturer Award
Special Recognition Award