Vocational students who have shone throughout their studies have been recognised as this year’s Nelson and Colne College stars.

The Vocational Student Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday evening to celebrate the achievements of those who have gone and above and beyond and to promote the importance of vocational qualifications to both the economy and the individual.

The evening, which was attended by the Chair of the Board of Governors Stephen Barnes and Principal Amanda Melton, included a drinks reception and prize presentation.

Winners included students who have achieved outstanding grades, who have overcome adversity, and who are off to university. These include Student of the Year in Science Callum Martin and Student of the Year in Business Charlotte Frost, who have each secured a place at one of the country’s top universities – The University of Exeter and The University of York respectively. Both are Russell Group universities, proving that vocational qualifications are as recognised and sought by the country’s leading universities as the more traditional A Level route.

Principal Amanda Melton said: “Students who do vocational programmes are able to enjoy their studies focusing on an area they are passionate about, while achieving the equivalent of three A Levels.

“These qualifications are immensely valuable and important in gaining practical experience. We are very very proud of all our vocational students and staff at the College. Well done to all of this year’s hard working and talented winners, who are doing everything from going into employment, starting an apprenticeship or heading to university – we know you will be extremely successful!”

It has been a fantastic year for vocational excellence at NCC – with highlights including students participating in World Skills, young business entrepreneurs making it to the final of the Barclay’s Built for Business awards and a showcase of technical and vocational skills for this year’s VQ Day.

Stephen Barnes, former chief executive of Pendle Council, added: “Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual; they deliver the trained, talented employees businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.”

One of the evening’s stars was Carla Smithstone, a former Unity College student, who has completed her BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design with a triple distinction star. Carla arrived at Nelson and Colne College painfully shy, but it soon became apparent to her tutors that she lives, breathes and eats Art.

She has since gone from strength to strength, throwing herself into the community and tirelessly researching her chosen topics to produce some truly outstanding work. Her display on homelessness at this year’s Art and Design End of Year Show was particularly captivating and completed with the upmost sensitivity.

Carla (18), who won Student of the Year in Art and Design and the special Abraham Leaver Award, said: “Winning the Abraham Leaver Award was really unexpected and such a nice surprise.

“Being at Nelson and Colne College has really helped my confidence grow, and my tutors have been so incredible and really supportive – I couldn’t have done it without them!”

Winners were:

Art and Design: Carla Smithstone, Sadie Goode

Commitment and achievement in Art and Design: Annie Spencer

Beauty Therapy: Sidrat Hussain

Business: Charlotte Frost, Zahraa Aziz

Catering and Hospitality: George Ingham, Patricia Stanworth

Childcare: Harriet Mitchell, Erica Sadiq

Engineering: James Whitehead, Husnain Hussain

Hairdressing: Jessica Trickett, Sigourney Pearson

Health and Social Care: Liz Mitchell, Larayb Ali

ICT: Rahat Aslam, Zeeshan Mirza

Public Services: Mary Makram, Ryan Whitley, Stephanie Burrows

Science: Karrie Cole, Callum Martin

Sport: Fezan Rauf

Barker Leaver Prize: Karrie Cole

Abraham Leaver Award: Carla Smithstone

For more information on Vocational courses at Nelson and Colne College contact 01282 440272.