Imogen Johnson is presented her award from HRH The Duke of York KG, Peter Jones CBE and Neil Old CEO at Jessops who sponsored the award. IMAGE: CPG PHOTOGRAPHY

East Durham College Student Presented Inspirational Award by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones

Imogen Johnson, a student from East Durham College won the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy’s ‘Inspirational Student of the Year’ award during a London ceremony last week (5th July 2017).

Sixteen-year-old Imogen was presented a trophy and prize by Peter Jones CBE in front of her friends and family, as well as hundreds of students from colleges across the country, who all came together for the prestigious Peter Jones Enterprise Academy annual graduation. Hundreds of students collected scrolls from Peter Jones on stage and Imogen was one of a select few to win an award.

Imogen, from Blackhall Colliery, was studying the BTEC in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, when she was nominated by fellow students and staff at the college. Imogen fought off competition from several other colleges and was chosen for the honour due to her incredible achievements on the course, despite being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

While studying the course, the condition meant that Imogen had severe pain and loss of energy, along with brain fogging, which made learning difficult. She became isolated and withdrawn and began to feel concerned about her workload.  

Imogen said: “I doubted my ability to ever return to being a high achieving student. I shared my concerns with my tutor, Jill, who has supported me throughout and believed and reassure me that I could accomplish my ultimate goal of passing the course and continue to produce high quality work when I was doubting myself. Now, I have a more positive approach and am building confidence daily as I approach and complete the assignments to the best of my ability, accepting my current health situation, however not allowing the negativity of this to overtake my life and goals.”

Imogen remained determined not to quit, even when her condition affected her learning and attendance. Several of her classmate nominated her as the most inspirational student, because although research and assignments took her longer to plan, they were always completed within the agreed timescale and to the best of her ability.

Imogen continued: “Since the start of the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy I have gained new friends, knowledge and experience and I feel very supported by the college, Jill and my classmates. The course has not only brought new learning and knowledge of business but a new appreciation and confidence in life and what can be achieved no matter what.”

Imogen’s tutor, Jill Tones said: “I really cannot put into words how amazingly inspirational Imogen is. In all of my 10 years of teaching I have never come across such a hardworking motivated student. Every time I think about Imogen it really makes me think that anything is possible and that we should never allow difficulties or problems to stop us from doing what we want, as this is certainly not what Imogen does, she knows what she wants and she is determined to achieve it regardless what is thrown at her.”

Peter Jones Foundation CEO Jonny Sobczyk, said: “We at the Foundation are incredibly proud of Imogen and I’m delighted she’s been recognised for her hard work. Imogen is truly unstoppable and I am excited for her future.”

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, run by the Peter Jones Foundation, is a nationwide network of colleges that deliver specialist courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to set up their own businesses, from which they gain real-life experience of running their very own company.

Jonny Sobczyk continued: “I’m proud of all of the students that graduated this year and have every faith that they will go on to do remarkable things. The day was a fantastic celebration of their achievements during their time with us.”

During the ceremony, the students received a royal visit from HRH The Duke of York, KG, Patron of the Peter Jones Foundation, as well as video messages of congratulations from various celebrities, including James Corden, Jack Whitehall, Holly Willoughby and Michael McIntyre.

IMAGE: CPG PHOTOGRAPHY.