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Star Wars actor among further education alumni to receive a prestigious Association of Colleges Gold Award

19 June 2019

Star Wars actor John Boyega, writer Malorie Blackman OBE and television presenter and radio DJ Reggie Yates are among the high-achieving further education alumni receiving a prestigious Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Gold Award this year. The alumni have been recognised for their achievements at a presentation ceremony at the House of Commons in London on 8 June. 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 by Baroness Sharp of Guildford, President of the AoC Charitable Trust. The winners of the award in 2016 are: Charleine Wain, hair & beauty salon owner and finalist in the BBC’s The Apprentice - City College Plymouth Jamal Edwards MBE, digital entrepreneur and founder of youth and music-focused media platform SB.TV - Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College Jill Scott, professional footballer for England and Manchester City - Gateshead College John Boyega, actor who is best known for playing Finn in the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens - South Thames College, London John Spencer, Astronomer and scientist on NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto - Nelson and Colne College, Lancashire Malorie Blackman OBE, author and former Children’s Laureate - City Lit, London Niall McKenna, Chef and owner of a number of restaurants in Belfast - Belfast Metropolitan College Reggie Yates, television and documentary presenter and radio DJ - City and Islington College, London. On receiving his award, John Boyega said: “I am so happy to receive this AoC Gold Award and to be part of the movement of actors and artists who have gone on to do great things but who value their education. “Thanks to the AoC Charitable Trust [for this award]. Andrew Cowan [Head of Creative Industries] and everyone at South Thames College - you guys literally got me through the first half of my career.” Reggie Yates said: “I have had an exciting and varied career and the support I received from City and Islington College was integral in getting me where I am today. I hope what I have achieved so far can inspire young people to develop their own vision of what they want to achieve and go for it. My teachers at City and Islington College helped make my vision a reality and I'm grateful to them for nominating me for this award‎." Alongside, the Gold Award winners, eight current college students were nominated by their colleges to become the winner’s ‘Future Star’ for showing promise in a similar field. The Future Stars are: Bridget Galloway, 16, who is studying BTEC Level 3 Sport Studies at Gateshead College Cherry Watters, 35, studying a Diploma in hairdressing for cutting and styling technicians at City College Plymouth Connor Bradley, 23, who is studying City and Guilds NVQ Level 3 Professional Chef Programme at Belfast Metropolitan College Deen Goss, 16, studying Level 3 Creative Media at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College Lotte Gleeson, 18, studying A Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths, Nelson and Colne College Martyna Przybycien, 18, studying A Levels in Media Studies, Photography and Geography at City and Islington College Michael Costello, 24, studying a University of the Arts London Level 3 Diploma in Performing and Production Arts at South Thames College Nick Hardstaff, 19, studying Writing Teen Fiction at City Lit, London. Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said: “Colleges provide a wealth 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 who I hope will be an inspiration to others.” 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