Open College Network NI hosts first ever virtual Learner Endeavour Awards

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Pictured is Helen McCartan (L) of NOW Group with Loaf staff member Sinead Ferry (R). NOW Group is a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future and is the winner of the Provider of the Year Award at the OCN NI Learning Endeavour Virtual Awards. For more information on OCN NI go to https://www.ocnni.org.uk/

Open College Network NI (OCN NI) has hosted its first ever ‘virtual’ Learning Endeavour Awards to celebrate learners from all over Northern Ireland.

They winners were nominated in a variety of categories, including Further Education Learner of the Year, Third Sector Learner of the Year, Schools Learner of the Year, Health & Well-being Learner of the Year, Learning in Employment Learner of the Year, Inspiring Tutor/Teacher of the Year, and Provider of the Year.

Today, Open College Network NI (OCN NI) hosted its first ever ‘virtual’ Learning Endeavour Awards to celebrate learners from all over Northern Ireland who were nominated in a variety of categories including; Further Education Learner of the Year, Third Sector Learner of the Year, Schools Learner of the Year, Health & Well-being Learner of the Year, Learning in Employment Learner of the Year, Inspiring Tutor/Teacher of the Year, and Provider of the Year. The aim of the awards is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and their training providers, by highlighting the power of learning to transform lives for the better. The event is unique in Northern Ireland as it brings together learners from a range of education and training providers, including representatives from the Community and Voluntary Sector, Further Education, Private Training and Schools sectors. Pictured are Peter Shields, Operations Manager – Employment & Training at Action Mental Health and Martin Flynn, CEO Open College Network NI. For more information on OCN NI go to https://www.ocnni.org.uk/

The aim of the awards is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and their training providers by highlighting the power of learning to transform lives for the better.The event is unique in Northern Ireland as it brings together learners from a range of education and training providers, including representatives from the community and voluntary sector, further education, private training and schools sectors. The Learning Endeavour Awards had been scheduled to take place in March at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

To ensure that all the winners and those shortlisted would receive the recognition they deserved, OCN NI made the decision to run the awards ‘virtually’ across social media channels, including Facebook and YouTube.

Some notable figures participated in the awards with Diane Dodds, Minister of the Department for Economy, and Peter Weir, Minister for the Department of Education, sending messages to all learners via video link. The voiceover for the awards was provided by radio celebrity Carolyn Stewart.

Martin Flynn, CEO of Open College Network NI, said: “We are delighted that we could host our Learning Endeavour Awards as we were extremely disappointed to have to cancel the event back in March.

“Technology and social media have enabled us to host our awards in a fun, exciting way and give the much-deserved recognition to all those who have participated, been shortlisted and of course to the winners.

“All the learners involved have worked incredibly hard to earn their accomplishments and we as an organisation are pleased that we can continue to award qualifications that benefit the lives of so many people here in NI.

“We’re also particularly pleased that the winner of The Hilary Sloan Memorial Award will receive a £500 learning bursary from OCN NI which will go towards their further development and education.

“We would like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who participated this year. Hopefully, our awards ceremony planned for 2021 will see us all being able to get together again!” added Martin.

The 2020 award winners were:

Further Education Learner of the Year – Arlene McCreedy, South Eastern Regional College;

Schools Learner of the Year – Fatima Quebe, Abbey Community College;

Third Sector Learner of the Year – Nikita Hart, Oh Yeah Music Centre;

Learning in Employment Learner of the Year – Sharon O’Neil, Action Mental Health;

Health & Well-being Learner of the Year – Paula Ellison, Action Mental Health;

Inspiring Tutor/Teacher of the Year – Phelim Lundy, ExternWorks;

Provider of the Year – Now Group;

Pictured is Nikita Hart of the Oh Yeah Music Centre and winner of the Third Sector Learner of the Year at the OCN NI Learning Endeavour Virtual Awards. Nikita made a huge impact on the Oh Yeah Centre through her organisation of the opening night of the East Belfast Arts Festival. For more information on OCN NI go to https://www.ocnni.org.uk/

The Hilary Sloan Memorial Award – Arlene McCreedy, South Eastern Regional College.

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