Monday 7th December 2009

APPEARING at Sandy Park as the guest speaker at Exeter College’s 2009 Skills Awards on Tuesday, December 8, Mary King’s journey to the top of her league is the stuff romantic novels are made of (see Editor’s Notes).
It is somewhat fitting, therefore, that she will be offering inspiration to this year’s Skills Awards winners – all of whom have demonstrated exceptional abilities, either as apprentices at the beginning of their careers, or Train to Gain learners who, already in employment, have been boosting their skills through further education.
The College currently provides for around 700 apprentices and 750 Train to Gain students in total, working with businesses and firms across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, ranging from micro-companies to major employers in the region.
They include utility and engineering giants South West Water and Howmet, the National Trust’s Killerton House, and city centre restaurant Abode, which is run by former Exeter College student turned celebrity chef Michael Caines MBE.
Following a sit-down meal in the Exeter Suite – to which family and friends have been invited as guests, as well as representatives of the employers for whom the students have been working while at the College – the 16 award winners will be presented with crystal glass star-shaped awards.
Subject fields in which their achievements will be recognised are as diverse as catering, hairdressing, IT, construction, motor vehicle, care, and aviation engineering.
The award for Employer of the Year will go to Exeter-based nursing agency Purple Balm.
Exeter College Work Based Learning Manager Sue Philips says: “The Skills Awards are intended as a real celebration of the students’ success stories and there is always a great atmosphere on the night. At the same time, they are also a way of saying thank you to the College staff and employers who support these young people throughout the course of their studies.”
As to why she has accepted the invitation to attend as guest speaker, Mary King adds: “I was thrilled to be asked to attend this event. Hopefully, I can inspire the award winners – both young people and adults who have already shown initiative and determination. It would be nice to think that winning these awards will help them keep up their drive to succeed in whatever they choose to do in the future.”