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Lion King actor among further education alumni to be honoured at AoC Gold Awards

20 May 2019

Lion King actor Shaun Escoffery, BBC reporter Sima Kotecha and Theatre Director Phillip Breen were among the high-achieving further education alumni receiving a prestigious Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Gold Awards this year. The alumni have been recognised for their achievements at a presentation ceremony at the House of Commons on 17 January. The awards celebrate the success of further education alumni and acknowledge the vital role that colleges play in building the foundation of successful careers. The alumni were surrounded by staff and students from their former colleges as they were presented with their AoC Gold Award. The winners of the award are: Chris Gates, Managing Director of luxury yacht builder Princess Yachts – Plymouth College Stephanie Hirst, broadcaster and presenter who had huge success with a breakfast show on Capital FM Yorkshire – Barnsley College Shaun Escoffery, actor, singer and songwriter. From 2008-2014, Shaun played the lead role of Mufasa in the London production of The Lion King - Barking & Dagenham College Sima Kotecha, BBC reporter who has worked across the organisation in radio and television – Queen Mary’s College Phillip Breen, Theatre Director – Winstanley College On receiving his award, Shaun Escoffery, said: “It’s such an honour to be put forward for one of these awards. It just shows the impact that the college had on me. It’s only now that I look back and realise how much I learnt. That experience is invaluable and I still use those skills I learnt back then in my daily life now.” Sima Kotecha said: “It feels great to have won, it’s a real honour. It goes to show that you don’t need to be a straight 'A' student to do well in life. I was born in a council house and didn’t come from a wealthy family but when you reach for the stars, anything is possible.” David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said: “Colleges provide a fantastic array of opportunities and it is an honour to be able to recognise those who have built on their time at college to shape a successful career. Congratulations to our Gold Award winners – I wish them all the very best for the future.” Further education colleges provide high-quality technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers. The AoC Gold Awards highlight the role they play in providing over three million students with valuable employability skills, helping to develop their career opportunities and strengthening the local, regional and national economy. Colleges are inspirational places to learn because education and training is delivered by expert teaching staff in industry-standard facilities. From basic skills to postgraduate degrees, colleges offer first rate academic and vocational teaching, in a range of professions including engineering, hospitality, IT, construction and the creative arts. Sixth form colleges provide high-quality academic education to 16 to 18-year-olds enabling them to progress to university or higher level vocational education. For more information about AoC Gold Awards visit