Celebration for graduating students at Henshaws

There were celebrations of achievement and determination to succeed when 19 students graduated from Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate on Friday (15 July 2016).

Henshaws College specialises in supporting young people aged from 16 – 25 with a wide range of disabilities and additional support needs. Its education, care and therapy teams provide individual, flexible learning programmes focused on personal and social development, independence and employability skills.



All 19 graduating students have varying levels of disability and have faced their own individual challenges in completing their courses and making the transition to the adult world.

The graduates were presented with their certificates by Rosie King, an activist for autism awareness, who at the age of 17 has already presented an Emmy Award winning documentary My Autism and Me and delivered a TEDMED talk on autism to over 1,000 people in Washington DC. Rosie spoke about her pride in the achievements of her younger brother and sister who both have severe forms of autism. She told the Henshaws students: “Today is about going beyond expectations, shoving the line that says you can’t do it, and doing what you want.”

Angela North from Henshaws
Angela North from Henshaws in Harrogate

Principal Angela North, said:

One of the characteristics that I love most about this College, is that our students are encouraged to be the best version of themselves. We strive together to ensure that their goals to secure a settled, contented and fulfilling adult life are met, as far as is possible. The other part of our collective job is to challenge our world, to be a more inclusive one – one person at a time.

The winner of the 2016 Henshaws Got Talent Awards, Samuel McDermott, also performed at the event and there were special awards to five students:

The Maxine Foster Award, given to the student who most embodies the spirit of enthusiasm for life and living, went to Nadeem Idris.

The Jessica Fielding Award for making a positive impact on others was won by Abigail Webster. Abi also gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the student body, thanking staff for their support.



The Gillian Lawrence Award for the student who has overcome personal obstacles and been a positive role model for others went to Joseph Mawer. Joseph is an essential wheelchair user who has been learning to stand with the support of the college’s Disability Support Services team. He was able to get up out of his chair and stand with support to accept his graduation certificate.

The Student Fundraiser Award to recognise a student who has gone beyond expectations and committed to personal challenges to help others was presented to Tom Oates for his 10km run fundraising challenge which has to date raised almost £2000 for the college.

The Joshua Rayner Award for the student with a unique and enthusiastic approach to their learning was presented to Jamie Grant.

Henshaws-Graduation-2016-Harrogate
Henshaw 2016 graduation

Jamie’s story

21 year old Jamie Grant, from Knaresborough, has autism, epilepsy, ADHD, and profound learning difficulties. His learning programme was based in The Starting Point, the College’s dedicated low-arousal setting which provides a structured educational pathway for young people with autism and wider additional needs.

During his time at College, Jamie has developed his use of Makaton signing to communicate his needs. A recent visit to a fast-food chain proved a major breakthrough when, for the very first time, he signed to his mother, Barbara, that what he really wanted was a burger.

Barbara said:

It doesn’t sound like much but it was amazing! It was the first time that he had really demonstrated his understanding of how to communicate. It has been Henshaws Specialist College’s understanding of Jamie as an individual that has allowed him to make so much progress here.

About Henshaws

  • Henshaws Specialist College is a transformational place. Through our personalised approach to education, learning and care we empower children and young people living with a disability to progress and live life the way they want.
  • Whether preparing for employment, making friends or learning to live more independently, we enable our students to make their aspirations possible and goals a reality.
  • Students follow an individual study programme to develop their independence, communication, personal and social skills.
  • Henshaws welcomes both residential and day students.
  • Henshaws Specialist College, Bogs Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 4ED
  • Henshaws College is part of Henshaws, a charity that supports people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to achieve their ambitions and go beyond expectations. henshaws.org.uk

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