From education to employment

Learners and Tutors Triumph at ‘Skills Oscars’

Learners and tutors from across the World have been honoured for their outstanding achievements in professional and technical education at The Lion Awards, a prestigious ceremony hosted by City & Guilds.

The Lion awards, often known as the ‘Oscars of skills education’, were held on Thursday evening in the stunning grounds of Capel Manor College in Enfield, north London, and showcased the very best in skills talent. The awards recognise excellent results and progression through learning as well as showcasing those who have overcome significant challenges to achieve their goals.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, UK Managing Director at City & Guilds said: “The wealth of talent across this year’s nominees and winners makes me incredibly proud of the achievements and dedication they have all shown. The Lion Awards are a great opportunity to showcase this talent and all of us at City & Guilds are honoured to have been a part of their success.”

The City & Guild’s Lion Awards ceremony is one of the most prestigious events in the skills education calendar and is a culmination of the Medals for Excellence awards programme, which dates back more than 100 years. 

This year more than 200 nominations were submitted across the five categories of Tutor of the Year, Outstanding Achiever of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, FE Learner of the Year and Employee Learner of the Year.

This year’s winners are:

Tutor of the YearMichael Felse, Professional Skills Academy, Salford

Michael has helped more than 200 health trainers achieve their qualifications. Michael’s health trainers meet the needs of over 1,000 clients in communities every year. He was awarded an Honorary Membership of City & Guilds for outstanding work that involved collaboration with Health and Cabinet Ministers. Michael himself is a health trainer, having delivered first line practical solutions to local people over a range of health issues. Although he’s 66, he still doesn’t think the job is done and will stay in his role until at least the age of 68 to motivate more individuals to reach their goals.  

Outstanding Achiever of the Year – Gary Doyle, Newry & Kilkeel Institute of FE, Newry

Gary started his Level 2 diploma in Plumbing at Southern Regional College in September 2011. He was identified by his tutor as having excellent potential and was entered for the Northern Ireland Skillbuild competition final in May 2012, winning a gold medal and qualifying for the UK Skillbuild final in November 2012. Due to Gary’s dedication and the skills developed as part of his City & Guilds course, he won a bronze medal at the competition, which placed him in the UK top 10 out a total of 22,000 possible plumbers. Gary repeated his successful run in the NI Competitions, winning a Silver medal in the UK Skillbuild final in November 2013. He was invited to join the UK squad for the World Skills competition and in May 2015 was selected to represent the United Kingdom at the world finals in Sao Paulo Brazil, where Gary went on to win the gold medal.

Apprentice of the Year – India Ratcliffe, North Lancs Training Group (NLTG), ACCRINGTON

Having taken a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Upholstery and Soft Furnishings, India has achieved an extremely high level of skill to meet not only modern techniques but also to specialise in traditional techniques that are rare in today’s upholstery trade. Within traditional restoration work she has developed her skills to produce bespoke items to the highest grade possible for quality and craft competency. As a female in a male orientated trade, India holds her own through the skills and crafts she has developed and recently achieved a highly commended award for Advanced Apprentice of the Year at the National Apprentice regional awards in Blackpool in October.

FE Learner of the Year – Daniel Kearney, Kerry ETB Training Centre, TRALEE

Dan started his Diploma in Media Techniques (Radio) in September 2014. Prior to this he had worked for 20 years in menswear before being made redundant, and had no experience in the radio industry. Despite his lack of experience, Dan took to the course very quickly. Dan completed an eight week in-company training with Radio Kerry where he worked as a producer on the weekend sports shows and within commercial production. Upon completing the course Dan produced his first independent documentary in collaboration with RTE Radio 1. This was very well received and was given a rating of 4.2 out of 5 by the RTE rating system.

Employee Learner of the Year – Alexander Fu Lam Chan, Professional Skills Academy, SALFORD

Alex, who was our youngest candidate in this category, immediately enrolled onto a NVQ level 3 Gym instructors and Personal trainer’s course after university and achieved subsequent qualifications in life coaching and diet and nutrition. His Level 3 Certificate for Health Trainers began in April 2015, after he gained valuable experience working as a gym supervisor and personal trainer. Alex not only achieved the Certificate but helped City & Guilds identify a new thematic community of potential candidates for the Level 3 qualification from physical.


City & Guilds has always included an International Learner of the Year award but this year for the first time, it was also able to recognise the excellent centres and tutors it works with around the world. People flew in from as far as New Zealand to celebrate their medal wins are we we’re delighted to be able to award eight international Lion awards.

The winners were: 

The Institute of Culinary Arts in South Africa International Centre of Excellence – Africa.

The Wellington Institute of Technology Weltec International Centre of Excellence – Asia Pacific.

Telecom Training Centre from Sri Lanka International Centre of Excellence  – South Asia.

The International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA Dubai) International Centre of Excellence – Middle East

Ballyfermot Training Centre International Centre of Excellence – Europe and the Caribbean  

And the overall international centre of the year went to ICCA Dubai. 

Sivasankaran Sarawanaraj picked up the International Learner of the Year award and with Thusitha Sameera Bandaranayake receiving the International Tutor of the Year. Both from Sri Lanka Telecom Training Centre.

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