Student Mitchell Chalmers is pressing ahead with his dream to become a qualified hairdresser after a successful fundraising campaign. Mitchell, known as Mitch, was left paralysed from the chest down after an accident at a motocross racing event three years ago. He has collected £4,900 for a standing wheelchair to help him with his hairdressing training after inspiring hundreds of people to donate through JustGiving. Mitch, a hairdressing student at Bath College, shared his story on the radio and in the press, and has been supported with his fundraising by family and friends.
Inspirational student Rachelle Wabissa was chosen as Adult Student of the Year at the Association of College’s national conference. Rachelle was nominated for the award by Access to Higher Education lecturer Carolyn Guy and was one of three students to be shortlisted. She was invited to a prestigious awards ceremony, which was part of a two-day conference attended by senior leaders in further education. The 22-year-old has just finished studying the Access to Higher Education course at Bath College, which enabled her to secure a place to study social work and applied studies at the University of Bath. She was nominated for the award in recognition of her drive to succeed and her determination to overcome difficult personal circumstances. Rachelle said: “I thought I was going to cry, but I managed to hold it in. A couple of months ago I was nominated for the award and suddenly I’m at the awards ceremony with these amazing people, who have been nominated alongside me, and I won. “I wasn’t expecting to win at all, it feels like a dream! The continued support from my college was a great help and they really pushed me all the best way to be the best I could be.” Bath College’s Access to Higher Education programme is a year-long intensive course which provides students with a qualification, allowing them to progress and study at degree level. Rachelle enrolled on the programme in September 2016, which required her to study English and maths in addition to units relevant to her degree. Just four months into the course, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, but despite being ill, she continued with her studies and helped with a pioneering project to integrate technology into tuberculosis treatment. Alongside this, she became a course representative, listening to the views of her fellow students and supporting their needs throughout the year. Rachelle said: “It will open doors for me when employers see that I have put my heart and my soul into my education. “Now it’s finished I don’t think about how much work I put in. I’m at university with two scholarships, it’s one of the best starts I could have had. “These awards not only recognise the hard work people have put in, they recognise the different paths people take to reach their goals. You don’t have to do A-levels; you can do an access course or an apprenticeship at college. “Two years ago if someone told me ‘this is what you’re going to be doing’ I would never have believed them. “I want to tell people that the access course is not just a course, it’s so much more than this and you can accomplish more than you think.” Bath College Principal Laurel Penrose, who was at the awards ceremony, said: “We’re very proud of Rachelle and the fact that she’s won national recognition for her dedication to the Access to Higher Education course. “This achievement is inspirational and also demonstrates the strength of our teaching staff, who go above and beyond to make sure students receive excellent support and guidance.” David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The Student of the Year awards showcase the very best of college students across the country. “They celebrate exceptional students who stand out from the crowd. Rachelle’s achievements despite her commitments outside of studying are to be commended. “Her compassion and hard work show, despite the illness she has been struggling with, must be lauded. She’s more than deserving of this award.”
Health and social care student Obed Adomako was praised for his sensitive and understanding approach at this year’s Care & Support West (CSW) Care Awards. Obed, a second year student at Bath College, won an award at the ceremony for time spent volunteering as a frontline care worker for healthcare company Dimensions. The 19-year-old completed a three-month work experience placement at the Riverside Centre, helping people with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping. He was invited to a special dinner at the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol after being nominated for the award by Jane Colenso, BANES Locality Manager at Dimensions. Obed said: “I enjoy doing work experience, seeing how everything works in practice helps you learn quicker. “Most of the people I was working with had impaired movement, so helping them to get back on their feet was really satisfying. “I would go in once a week to help out for a full day, I was there from 8am to 3pm, so I got to know people fairly well. “Just seeing them smile makes it worth it, I’d definitely do it again.” Jane, who was Obed’s placement supervisor, said: “In the short time that Obed has been working for Dimensions, he has made a real difference. “He supported a service user who had become withdrawn and felt unable to leave his flat, helping him to clear the paved area in front of his flat. “His gentle and encouraging approach has helped to inspire the service user, fostering his wellbeing and enabling him to take an interest in the wider world and his local community. “Nothing seems too much trouble for Obed, he has impressed with his conscientious and person-centred approach and has fitted in well with all members of the team.” Health and social care students at Bath College can progress onto a wide range of higher education courses, including nursing, midwifery, primary teaching and psychology. Some go straight into caring roles and may choose an apprenticeship route. As part of their course, Level 3 students need to do 300 hours of work experience and aim for three different placements. In December, students will be invited to apply for work experience through the Bath College Care Academy, which will enable students to have structured work experience opportunities linked to local employers. Successful students will spend time on rotation working for Somerset Care, Sirona Care & Health, Dimensions, Way Ahead Care, the Royal United Hospital and Swallow, a charity for teenagers and adults with learning disabilities. Obed, from Bristol, grew up in Italy and came to the UK when he was 16-years-old, originally enrolling at college to study for his GCSEs. He hopes to go on to study physiotherapy at university and is currently looking for work experience in this area. He said: “Being nominated for the award has given me the motivation to put in 100 per cent at all times, because you don’t know who will be watching your work and where it will take you. “Sometimes it’s hard finding work experience, but it always pays off. This experience will really help me when I come to do my personal statement for university.”