From education to employment

Colleges commend high achieving previous students with gold

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has revealed this year’s stars from the worlds of politics, sport and enterprise who have been awarded its esteemed Gold Award.

The eighty-strong Further Education ‘Hall of Fame’ will welcome eight new members. They will join the likes of Stephen Fry (City College Norwich), Deborah Meaden (Brighton and Hove) and Baroness Betty Boothroyd (Kirlees College) during a ceremony on Wednesday 13 June.

The powerful and nationally recognised candidates, accepting the AoC Gold Award:

  • Idris Elba, actor, has been nominated by Barking and Dagenham College

  • Amir Khan, Olympic medallist and professional boxer, has been nominated by Bolton College

  • Sir Kevin Smith, chief executive of GKN, has been nominated by Burnley College

  • Peter France, chief executive of Rotork, has been nominated by City of Bath College

  • Trevor Baylis, inventor and entrepreneur, has been nominated by Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

  • Katy Etherington, graphic designer and founder of PA Pool, has been nominated by the National Star College

  • Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, has been nominated by the Sixth Form College, Solihull

  • Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport, has been nominated by Thomas Rotherham College


The FE alumni will attend a ceremony at the House of Commons and will be presented with the prestigious gold award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough.

Lord Willis, who is the president of the AoC Charitable Trust, said: “It is a real privilege each year to present these awards to such an array of genuinely outstanding achievers. The nominating colleges, and the sector as a whole, should be enormously proud of the way they nurture the talents of their students and instil in them the skills, confidence and determination they need to succeed, whatever path they choose and wherever their ambitions lie.”

The eight accepted candidates were chosen from more than 100 successful and well-deserved nominees. As well as recognising the achievements of former FE students, the AoC Gold Awards commend the necessary and prevalent role that colleges play in the lives, aspirations and careers of their winners.

Natasha Spencer

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