Homeless, But Simon Builds Himself A Great Foundation

East Durham College student Simon Newby, 26, from Blackhall Rocks, has been recognised for his hard work and talent at a recent Students’ Award ceremony.

Simon started out on an Entry Level 3 catering course in September, but such was his talent and work ethic he was moved up to a Level 2 NVQ in Catering & Hospitality.

He was nominated for the award by his tutors as he had shown commitment and enthusiasm that is second to none. He constantly completes his work ahead of schedule and to a very high standard – plus he always volunteers for extra duties at events and functions.

Simon’s success is all the more remarkable given the number of personal issues he has had to overcome.

He had enrolled on a catering course at the College when he was 18 but had to drop out due to personal issues, that unfortunately lead on to depression. Simon then became homeless after he lost his home, about 3 years ago, following problems with the council and housing association. Since then he has been living in a tent and staying with friends.

Simon said: “I know I was no angel in the past, but I’m really starting to turn my life around. I come to college 5 days a week and the course has given me a real purpose in life. My girlfriend has also been a massive support.

“I hope to go on to study at Level 3 and then get a job in catering or hospitality. I’m really chuffed to win this award and if I can succeed anyone can – you just need to get the drive and ambition.”

Jean Taylor, a Lecturer in Catering at the College, said: “Simon’s approach to his course has be outstanding and to learn as much as possible. I can certainly see Simon going all the way to Level 3 because he has the drive and determination required to achieve this. He’s also a fantastic role model to the other students.”

Tutor Lynn Smith, commented: “Simon has a good attitude to his work and shows respect to his superiors and peers alike.” While Sharon Flower, Programme Leader for Food Service added: “Simon is always a pleasure to work with and very deserving of this award, well done Simon.”