A student, who started Kensington and Chelsea College with no qualifications and worked through several courses to land a spot at university, has been honoured with a prestigious award at the House of Lords.
Simon Blackstock was presented with the highly sought after Helena Kennedy Foundation Award in recognition of his achievement in reaching Higher Education.
Simon received his award and a £1500 bursary towards the cost of completing his degree from human rights lawyer and peer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. He will also receive mentoring and work shadowing support as part of the bursary package.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who is also the President of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, said: “I am delighted to have presented Simon with one of our awards in recognition of his huge achievements in reaching university against the odds. Each student who receives an award has been selected because they are special and have shown real talent and determination.
Simon, 21, from Chelsea, left school without any GCSEs, but returned to education five years later at the college.
Despite hurdles to overcome in his personal life, including two major operations, Simon completed several courses at the college, including GCSE Math and English, before successfully completing the Access to Business Course, which finally enabled him to apply to university.
The determined student is now studying a Banking and International Finance Degree at City University.
Simon said: “I’ve always been good with numbers but didn’t pursue this at school, and only found my motivation to get into education when I was slightly older. The first year I returned to education was the hardest as I had to take time out for an operation. It left me a slightly behind on the course but I was encouraged by my mum and tutors not to give up, and I’m glad I didn’t.
“It’s a real honour to be given the award from the Helena Kennedy Foundation. I feel like it’s recognition for my achievements. My tutor must have really believed in me to nominate me in the first place, which is a big confidence booster.
“I really want to do well at university, for both myself and those supporting me. I’d love to eventually become a financial advisor or management accountant and feel like the bursary has given me a head start as well as reduce the financial stress of going to university.”
Wes Streeting, Chief Executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, said: “Kensington and Chelsea College should be justifiably proud of the talented student they have produced and we look forward to working with Simon to help him get the most out of studying at university.”
Simon was nominated by his tutor Hilary Steele, who described him as one of the most deserving candidates she has ever come across throughout her career at the college.
The Helena Kennedy Foundation was set in the late eighties with the aim of encouraging and supporting disadvantaged students from further education colleges to access university. The awards in particular offer students a range of bursaries to support them financially whilst attending university.
Date published: 15 November 2010