Hard working Henshaws College students have celebrated the culmination of their achievements with delighted parents, tutors and friends at an uplifting and emotional graduation ceremony.
The event acknowledged the climax of three years of education and guidance for 25 visually-impaired and disabled students, who have learnt valuable life and employment skills equipping them to make a successful transition to the next stage of their lives.
Cllr Ian Galloway, Deputy Mayor of Harrogate and Cllr John Batt, Mayor of Knaresborough, joined Henshaws College principal Gill Jennison to co-present certificates and “transitions passports” which summarise what students have learned and the qualifications they have gained. The graduates were also given a yearbook, a DVD featuring the students and a talking alarm clock as a leaving gift.
Gill Jennison opened the event by congratulating the students on their hard work in learning practical skills to enable them to look after themselves, as well as picking up technological and advanced social skills and the ability to work with other adults. Gill also noted the college’s achievement this year of an Ofsted and CQC (Care Quality Commission) rating of ‘Good’ – ‘Outstanding’ in areas including assistive technology and care guidance support.
It has been a year of achievement for the college as well as our talented students. New links have been forged with local employers and considerable investment made in a refurbished gym and community involvement activities. We’re immensely proud of all our students and right behind every one of them, whether they’re cooking a meal for the first time or winning a medal in the Special Olympics.
This year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics is a particularly memorable one and our graduates will never forget that they are the Class of 2012.
Graduate Sam Hindley, chair of the student council, thanked the tutors and said:
I have really enjoyed media studies, sport and being on the student council. I am going to take a course at the community radio station in the Doncaster and I hope it will lead to regular volunteering.
Fellow graduate Laurie McNamara added:
I really like working in the café at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre and making lots of art. I am looking forward to working in the Eco Café in York and hope that I will also be able to work in a gym.
Graduate Joshua Kirkup said:
Thank you to all the staff who have helped me to become the independent young man I am. I am going to house-share in Scarborough and volunteer at hospital radio in Bridlington. I’ve made lots of friends – good luck to everyone.
Following the graduation ceremony two further awards were made, congratulating students on their enthusiastic approach to life and learning. The Maxine Foster award was won by James Kershaw and the Joshua Rayner award went to Laurie McNamara. These awards were established in memoriam of a former Henshaws staff member and student respectively.
Finally, Frank McFarlane made the inspirational closing address. Mr McFarlane is himself blind and a trustee of Henshaws Society for Blind People. After thanking the staff and the graduates’ families, Frank called the students “brilliant”
You will need to carry on working hard, to earn what you get. You can be independent; you can gather skills. It’s not about what you can’t do – get out there and show people what you can do.
Henshaws College caters for more than 70 full-time students; most have a visual impairment as well as complex physical disabilities and learning difficulties. The majority are residential, but the college also offers day college placements to local young people and a range of school link courses to pupils from Harrogate and Leeds high schools.
The college’s aim is to promote independent living and employability skills. Its specialist curriculum covers vocational training in five pathways (hospitality, retail and administration, horticulture, arts and crafts, and media and communications), independence skills, mobility and travel training, sports, fitness and leisure, literacy and numeracy – as well as offering support in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language.
The 2012 graduates are as follows:
- Jordan Bottomley
- Sarah Brownsword
- Michael Carter
- Jamie Chui
- Thomas Cook
- Louise Dakin
- Claire Donaldson
- Corey Gale
- Matthew Gledhill
- Jack Green
- Nicola Hall
- Daniel Harwood
- Sam Hindley
- Edward Holt
- David Ingham
- Ben Kendall
- James Kershaw
- Joshua Kirkup
- Katherine Marin
- Laurie McNamara
- Kayleigh Midwood
- Hannah Miller
- Sam Price
- Leeann Rhodes
- Gwen Thomas