City College Brighton & Hove
In a memorable year which included being praised as 'outstanding' by Ofsted and success rates confirming it as one of the top six per cent highest achieving Further Education colleges in the country, City College Brighton and Hove held its City Achievers 2011 student awards ceremony at its Main Hall in Pelham Street, Brighton on Thursday 3rd November. From a cohort of around 12,000 students, the College chose forty-one winners in areas as diverse as Visual Arts, Business, Hairdressing, Carpentry, Sports and Catering.

The overall 'City Achiever' was named as 17-year-old Catering student Asha Phelps, a hard-working and highly-committed learner who has also been a carer throughout her teenage years. Both her mother and younger sister have a chronic condition resulting from disturbances in the body’s immune system and she also helps care for her three year old brother. Asha’s family also suffered from racial abuse and were temporarily forced to move to Eastbourne which had detrimental effect on her education. Despite all these difficult circumstances, Asha's catering skills have developed strongly with high achievements in Functional Skills, practical and theory coursework and she’s been a much-valued member of the team at both the College’s training restaurants. Asha had previously been shortlisted for an Argus Achievement award in the 'Carer of the Year' category and she’s received a £1,000 bursary from the Savoy Trust alongside her City Achiever Award.

Her tutor Jonathon File said: 'I had the pleasure of teaching Asha last year and she was outstanding in every way. Both her theory and practical work was excellent and the unwavering way in which she supported other students when they were getting stressed was a real tribute to her character considering what she was having to deal with outside of College. You’d never have guessed there were any external issues that she was coping with that would have impeded her studies because she was 100 per cent focused. I couldn’t have asked for a better student.'

Teaching support assistant Linda Paul added: 'Asha’s been under a  lot of stress at home helping to care for her family but she’s been a really successful student despite everything she’s coping with while also being one of the most cheerful and helpful students in the department. I’m absolutely delighted that she’s won the overall prize because the whole of our department and everyone who knows her can really say she deserves it because she’s such a lovely girl.'

Asha said: 'When I heard the lovely things that my tutors were saying about me in the clip that was shown before the award was made, I just burst into tears. City College has done so much for me and really helped me mature as a person. Being here has made me feel really confident that I’ll find success in the catering industry.' Her mum Kim said: 'Asha winning this award has meant everything to me. I’m so proud of her. It means that everything we’ve achieved with her at home has paid off when you see how she’s approaching her College life.'

Other notable winners included Intensive Support City Achiever, Jeanette West who accesses City College's services for Deaf learners. Jeanette has retrained and achieved her hairdressing qualification while putting her learning into practice by finding employment at local salon, Giovanni's. Her strong entrepreneurial skills led to her identifying a gap in the market for Deaf people wanting the services of a hairdresser from the Deaf community who can use a variety of communication methods. She has now set up her own hairdressing business which is attracting a loyal clientele. 'I didn’t expect to achieve something like this so I was really surprised and it felt really good', said Jeanette. 'Level 2 Hairdressing was difficult but I learnt quickly with the support of my tutors.'

Work-focussed Training City Achiever Nick Anastiades’s award was due to his outstanding work on an eight-week intensive Customer Service course which he completed while he was unemployed. 'Nick was a keen participant in all activities, did any extra curricular credit he could and was generally an incredibly pleasant person to have around', said Simon Dyer, skills support advisor. 'He was strongly focussed on gaining employment at American Express and work his way up the company.  He therefore used his time on the course to explore avenues of employment with Amex, eventually approaching their representatives at a Jobs Fair and convincing them with his sheer enthusiasm to offer him an interview.  Nick’s now an apprentice with Amex and looks destined for success with the company. This award is a fantastic way of recognising Nick’s hard work and also shows how these courses can help people turn their lives around.'

Mature student Diana Rossi (57) who won the art and design 'City Achiever' has been suffering with ill-health but has found a whole new lease of life studying for her Introductory and Intermediate Certificates in Art and Design at the College. Inspired by artists such as Lucien Freud, she now plans to progress to university with ambitions to paint on a large scale. Diana also managed to attend the award despite recently breaking a rib in a bad fall but still insisted on wearing her six-inch stilettos while using a walking stick! 'Winning this award is the biggest achievement of my life apart from having my daughters. I've never won an award apart from a ten-yard swimming competition so I absolutely can’t believe it and am over the moon.'

There are many reasons why Luke Campion, an outright Distinction student, deserved the Digital Arts City Achiever award. He showed entrepreneurship by extending his coursework, self-publishing an outstanding graphic novel Renegade, on sale in Dave’s Comics in Brighton. This in itself is a sizeable achievement but for someone who is dyslexic, it’s remarkable. Luke was also commissioned to produce a 2-D animation promoting digital arts, which he completed in his own time on top of his course work to professional standards. Luke faced his difficulties with language and numeracy head on and worked hard to overcome them to such an extent that he’s how continuing his studies at Newport University.

Building Trades City Achiever Sonia Allagui started her education in France where, due to her parents’ ill health, she was forced to stay off school and look after them. Sonia fell behind at school and was cruelly ridiculed by teachers whenever she attended. She left France with little education, feeling disillusioned because of how badly she’d been treated. Sonia enrolled at City College and despite language difficulties, she excelled and obtained numerous courses ending in a Level 3 painting and decorating advanced craft certificate. Sonia was also awarded the College’s Braybon bursary. Her tutor Chris Pate said: 'Sonia has told me that City College changed her life and she makes it clear how highly she regards the place but the feeling is mutual. Her approach to the course and quality of her work was absolutely superb. She’s been an amazing student.'

There were also University scholarship awards (a noteworthy winner being Rahaf Issa winning a scholarship for the second years in a row because of her outstanding achievement in Biological Sciences), the presentation of a 'Golden Alumni' award to former art foundation student and renowned local designer/tailor Gresham Blake and an 'Employers Contribution' award to Uden Lettings to celebrate successful training collaborations with local businesses. Gresham Blake said: 'I was a bit of a wrong 'un before I came here and had no direction. It really did turn my life around and I’m very thankful for my time here.'

James Mortimer, Partner in Uden Lettings said: 'It was really lovely to get this recognition for the work we’ve done supporting our business administration apprentices and their assessor from City College. The College has been so helpful in guiding us through the whole apprenticeship process and their support has been phenomenal.'

Reflecting on the event, Phil Frier concluded: 'While our Ofsted results and success rates are fantastic for the reputation of the College, our City Achievers night brings the human side of what we do sharply into focus, showing that what we do here genuinely transforms lives. Aside from being an event that is uplifting for all the students and their families, it also reminds everyone connected with the College why it’s so vital for us to keep providing an outstanding learning experience for our students.'

Full list of winners:

Catering (and overall winner) - Asha Phelps

Access to Higher Education - David Harbinson

Acting, Drama and Dance - Adam Butcher

Adult English and Maths - Luke Ellis

Intensive Support - Jeanette West

Visual Arts - John Ingle

Art and Design - Diana Rossi

Art Foundation - Terrence Brett

Digital Arts - Luke Campion

Electrical - Luke Sonnessa

Childcare - Brianna Clough

Computing - Dawid Hetmanczyk

Beauty - Paula Harman

Carpentry - Cameron Bettany

Engineering - Matt Gray

ESOL - Saif Mahdi

Hairdressing - Clare Kent

Health and Social Care - Nikolai Holden

14-16 - Jake Thew

 International - Lucy Sangodiran

Journalism - Claire Smyth

Language, Literacy and Numeracy - Kisanet Haile

Learning Development -Daniel Westmore

Media - Kevin Otiem

Motor Vehicle - George Chaplin

Music Technology - Nikolajs Varlamovs

Photography - Michael Addison

Plumbing - Jordan Nashe

Prince’s Trust - Jess North

Professional Business - Max Carter

Public Services - Ella Bewley

Sports - Archie Hutchins

Teacher Education - Chris Williams

Travel and Tourism - Mary Drrias

Apprenticeship - Charlotte Burns

Work-focussed Training - Nick Anastiades

Business - Jordan Brake

Building Trades - Sonia Allagui

Brighton University scholarships

Charlotte Moss –Hospitality & Events Management

Rahaf Issa - Biological Sciences

Charlotte Skinner - Biological Sciences

Staff Awards

Outstanding Achievement for Business Support - Mark Mortern

Outstanding Achievement for Teaching - Gaynor Brown

External Awards

Outstanding Contribution to Vocational Education from an Employer - Uden Lettings

Golden Alumni Award - Gresham Blake

For course information, contact 01273 667759 or email

For media enquiries, please call Brian Bell, Marketing Communications Officer, on 01273 667788 Ext. 488 or email website

About City College Brighton and Hove: Situated in the heart of Brighton and praised as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted in its June 2011 report, City College Brighton and Hove is an international centre of vocational excellence and one of the top performing Further Education Colleges in the country. Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part time, 400 Higher Education and 400 14-16 year old students as well as many international and European students choose City College as their place of further and higher education training. In addition, the College provides training to over 2,000 businesses via its ‘City Business Skills’ department which focuses on employer training needs. Offering over 700 courses from basic level right through to business and postgraduate training, City College is working with its partners to develop the workforce of the future.

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