South Cumbrian stars celebrating success at Golden Apple Awards
A TRIO of south lakes stars enjoyed success at this year's Golden Apple Awards – Cumbria's premier event honouring education, training and skills.
Barrow's Furness College scooped the award for best further education provider, while the Engagement Centre at Ulverston Victoria High School was also honoured with the inclusion award.
The award for best apprentice was also claimed by Glaxosmithkline's Joe Hambley.
The eighth annual awards were staged by cnevents, part of CN Group which publishes the News & Star, The Cumberland News, Times & Star, The Whitehaven News and The Mail.
The awards were sponsored by career and personal development organisation Inspira and the University of Cumbria, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this autumn.
Former broadcaster Julie Clayton guided the 200 guests through the awards evening.
Judging took place in August.
The big winner was West Lakes Academy in Egremont, which scooped a hat-trick of awards at the glittering gala event held in Carlisle on Friday night.
It caps an amazing year for the school, which opened in 2008 as one of Cumbria's first academies.
Now it is one of the county's best performing schools and at the end of the 2016/17 academic year was judged to be outstanding in all areas by the education regulator Ofsted.
Last week West Lakes Academy also welcomed Professor Brian Cox as it hosted the Infinity festival - a county first - to inspire more than 200 young, aspiring students from schools across Cumbria.
A surprise winner at the 2017 Golden Apple Awards dinner, held at the University of Cumbria's Fusehill Street campus, was 19-year-old Lance Gearing, who won the Against All Odds award.
Judges were moved by the nomination for Lance put forward by staff at Lakes College West Cumbria, Lillyhall.
College tutors described how Lance, who lives with his family in Whitehaven, had progressed academically despite serious health issues.
Lance's mum Karen said: "College have absolutely done a fantastic job to help and encourage Lance the last two years. They have pushed him and he's faced a lot of challenges.
"College has been a positive environment for him and it has given him confidence and pushed him academically as well. Lance has matured through college so much and we're all so proud of what he has achieved."
Lance was unable to attend the event and Lakes College principal Chris Nattrass picked up the award on his behalf.
Lance, of Magellan Park, was among the 21 winners revealed.
The lifetime achievement award was presented to Carlisle early years expert Emmy Sealey, who ran Ravenscar Kindergarten in Stanwix for almost 30 years.
Members of the panel included first-time judges retired headteacher Val Bairstow, who was in charge at Kirkbride Primary School near Wigton when it was named Primary School of the Year at last year's awards; and Jennifer Foote, company secretary and general counsel of national training, learning and education group LTE.
Mrs Foote, a former clerk of the corporation board at Carlisle College and who lives at Hutton Roof near Penrith, was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours for her services to further education.
They were joined by David Chesser, chief operating officer at the University of Cumbria, and Mark Bowman, chief executive of Inspira.
CN Group education reporter Kelly Pattison completed the line-up with judging facilitated by Mandy Norwood, events manager from cnevents.
Other supporters of the 2017 awards were United Utilities, BAE, Sellafield, Lakes College, Choose Cumbria and Furness College.
Winners of the 2017 Golden Apple Awards