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Uxbridge College students honoured by ‘bionic woman’ Claire Lomas

Claire Lomas MBE – the first and only paralysed person to walk the London Marathon – honoured Uxbridge College students and employer partners for their achievements at a moving awards ceremony.

Dubbed the ‘bionic woman’ by media because she completed the 2012 marathon in a pioneering ReWalk robotic suit, Claire presented awards to winners chosen from amongst the College’s full-time and part-time learners and its employer partners.

Winners included Michael Lawless, who was made overall winner with the Super Star Award, sponsored by Lloyds Bank Commercial. Michael, 19, who is now on his way to Hertfordshire University to study Animation, was chosen for his fantastic attitude, brilliant artistic skills, constant dedication to improving, and commitment to overcoming challenges. He progressed from the Level 2 Game Design & Animation, to the Level 3 in Game Design at Uxbridge College, achieving top Distinction grades despite medical problems. Among his work is an ident – a short sequence used on television to identify a channel or company –  which he has created for Straw Cat Productions. Michael hopes to go on and work as a Games Designer.

Claire is paraplegic – paralysed from the chest down but able to use her arms – after a horse riding accident, but in 2012 she became the first and only paralysed person to walk the London Marathon, which took her 17 days and raised £210,000 for Spinal Research. She also made headlines when she was banned from the Vitality London 10k race after organisers said UK Athletics rules prohibited the use of motors, but was later allowed to take part unofficially. She lit the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square in 2012, has raised more than £500,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, has written and published her autobiography Finding My Feet, takes part in motorbike racing using only hand controls, and was made an MBE this year.

Principal of Uxbridge College, Laraine Smith OBE, said: “Our Annual Awards event was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our students and employer partners, and we would like to say a huge thank you to Claire Lomas for coming along to present the awards. Claire’s story shows exactly how far courage, determination and hard work can get you and the same applies to those honoured by awards this year at Uxbridge College’s ceremony. And whilst many of our award winners have succeeded with high grades in academic and work-related training, it is also their personal stories that give their achievements such meaning. Congratulations to everyone who has received awards this year.”

The event, held at The Beck Theatre in Hayes, recognised winners from across the College’s academic and vocational programmes – including GCSEs, A-levels, BTEC qualifications, Apprenticeships and HNDs – and from among the 1,000 employers the College works with.

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