Last night, West London College hosted its Annual Excellence Awards, a high point in our college calendar. The event brought together alumni, students, partners, and their families and guests to honour outstanding achievements in learning, industry, our local community, and beyond.
Guests gathered in our TASTE Restaurant for canapes, prosecco, and juice before taking their places in the Sports Hall at Hammersmith & Fulham College, which was magically transformed for the night into a glittering awards venue. Lighting, decoration, and music created a glamorous environment to complement and recognise the nominees’ talented accomplishments.
Principal and CEO Karen Redhead OBE welcomed everyone to the event followed by keynote speaker Syed Ahmed. A former WLC student of science, business and finance, Syed is now an award-winning and highly successful philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Onto the awards and first up was Aiesha Norelle who won for her exceptional performance in Health and Social Care. Aiesha progressed from Level 1 directly to Level 3 after achieving Grade 6 in her English and Grade 5 in her Maths GCSEs.
Runner-up for the Service Industries award, Nevaeh Wilson, is studying Professional Cookery Level 2. Nominated for her dedicated work ethic, Nevaeh’s fondest memories are of her work at The Game Fair in July, organised by The Chefs’ Forum. Nevaeh is most proud of the staggering 69 hours she has completed in Enrichment opportunities, working on special dinners in TASTE, and at other catering events.
The English and Maths award runner-up was Fereshteh Shabani, for her achievement in achieving Grade 9 in GCSE Maths. Fereshteh, who is now studying Beauty Therapy Level 2, said: “I was good at maths at school and my teacher Afsaneh Akbari really pushed me hard to get the best out of me.”
Thalveen Singh took the award for Business, Professional and Science for his accounting prowess. He progressed from AAT Levels 2 to 4 at WLC and is now working for Langham Hall Accounting as a trainee accountant, studying for his ACCA accreditation, and is well on his way to becoming a chartered accountant.
The Inclusive and Foundation Learning award went to Mya Bowern-Gohagon, who is studying Art, Media and IT Level 1. Mya says her personal best achievements are “the confidence I’ve gained at WLC and the artwork I have created.”
The Construction and Motor Vehicle award went to Kaveh Yaghmuri who completed a course in Plumbing Level 3. Formerly a civil engineer in his home country of Iran, working on site was not a new experience for him – and he quickly picked up plumbing. Kaveh, whose wife passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic due to illness, said: “I was in a very sad place when I joined WLC, but the support and education I received from my teachers really helped to lift my spirits.”
The ESOL and Skills Pathway award went to Jamileh Hazbavi, who is now studying Hairdressing Level 2 and plans to become a professional hairdresser. Jamileh believes the greatest things WLC has given her are “self-discipline, punctuality and motivation” which she says she has learned from her teachers Andrew Barrass in ESOL and Meyrem Salih in Hairdressing.
Shreyas Vartia won Young Student of the Year 14-16. Shreyas studied the Key Stage 4 GCSE programme at Southall, and is now studying A-levels in Maths. Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry – with plans to study either a mechanical or chemical engineering Oxbridge degree. He remembers his time at WLC fondly. He says his classmates were “like a family” to him.
Gee Sanchez-Lluch bested the Higher and Technical category for his performance during the Diploma in Education and Training (DET). Currently a Learning Support Assistant (LSA), Gee hopes to become an Inclusive Learning teacher.
The Jamal Edwards MBE Contribution to the Community Award was presented to Masmoumeh Hounjani. A volunteer at West London Welcome, Masmoumeh says she is very grateful to her ESOL Entry Level 3 teachers Leyla Houshian-Daly and Nicci Golland. Masmoumeh says: “They gave me the skills to express myself.”
Aaron Palmer, who was shortlisted for the Association of Colleges’ Apprentice of the Year award 2023/24 earlier this year, was named our Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Mindful Education. Aaron, who works for EE Smith Contracts Ltd, was unable to join us for the evening, so Mark McKenna, Managing Director of Mindful Education, presented the award to Chris Larkin, Aaron’s tutor.
Elizabeth Akinlaja secured the Breaking Barriers Award, sponsored by Protocol, who run the college’s Capital Talent Box (CTB) recruitment agency. Charlotte Schofield and Simon Sorrentino from Protocol presented Elizabeth with her award. However, it wasn’t just one award that Elizabeth was presented with, when she was announced as the overall Student of the Year 2023, chosen by our Board of Governors, recognising her as the ’winner of winners’. Studying IT and Computing Level 2, Elizabeth is passionate about her subject and is proud of the knowledge and skills she now has in technology and social media.
Kindred Studios in Shepherd’s Bush took the Work Experience Placement award, recognising their effort to offer students high-quality support and guidance. They have a huge upcoming exhibition, and were unfortunately unable to join us on the evening, but were presented the award earlier in the day at their gallery.
The Chefs’ Forum won the coveted Community Partner/Employer of the Year Award. The Chefs’ Forum, who also sponsored the evening, is a long-standing partner of WLC, which has spent many years helping the college place students in top London kitchens. This is now spreading across the country. Last year alone saw West London College students head off to places like Ikaro Manchester with Masterchef Finalist Exose Grant, and to exclusive and high-end operations such as The RAF Club, South Lodge in Hampshire, and The Manor House near Bath. The Chefs’ Forum founder, Catherine Farinha, said: “The awards cover every discipline including service industries and it was amazing to see how much the students brought to the whole event and to their courses. There was lots of cheering, praise, and hugs on the night!”
As the lights dimmed on this year’s awards, and everyone moved out into the November night, we knew that the memories of this event would inspire the next generation of award winners for 2024.
We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for the evening – Aramark, Best Practice People, FE Associates, Learning Curve, Mindful Education, Protocol, and The Chefs’ Forum.