Students at Henshaws College in Harrogate joined with friends, family and staff to celebrate their achievements at an uplifting graduation ceremony last week.
Twenty eight students with a wide range of disabilities received their certificates from Councillor Michael Newby, the Mayor of Harrogate, and Nicki Eyre, Managing Director for Education and Training.
Mrs Eyre said:
All of our students have learnt skills and confidence to help them move on to the next stage in their lives. Independence is at the heart of everything we do, whether students are making their own meals, looking after their own health or gaining employability skills. We are proud of each and every one of them and delighted to be celebrating their achievements today.
This year’s graduates include Nathan, 22, who uses a communication aid to communicate using eye gaze movements. He was awarded the College’s Communication Award for his determination and commitment and said:
When I started at College I could only use single words, but now I’ve learnt different greetings and how to change the subject in conversations. I feel more confident talking to people now. Now I’ve graduated I’d like to teach. The eye gaze technology I use is still quite new and I’d really like to show other people how to use it.
Fellow graduate Alannah will be moving into a shared house with friends after College.
I’ve enjoyed working at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre shop and increasing my independence. Thank you to all the staff and students, I will miss you.
Henshaws ambassadors, Coronation Street’s Paula Lane and fiancé and fellow actor Tom Shaw weren’t able to attend the event but they sent a special message of congratulations to all the graduating students.
Following the ceremony, Councillor Newby thanked Henshaws for inviting him to be part of the event and spoke of the mixed emotions students might be feeling.
Councillor Newby said:
There is going to be a sense of sadness as it’s your last day but it’s also a time of celebration. I see great pride in the faces of the students and all the staff and families who have supported you. I wish you the best for everything you go on to achieve in the future.
Henshaws College offers specialist further education for residential and day students who have a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities, specialising in visual impairment. For more information on their flexible individual learning programmes visit www.henshaws.ac.uk