Stephen Hughes MEP Visits East Durham College

Stephen Hughes MEP, visited the stunning new £36m East Durham College complex at Willerby Grove, Peterlee. Stephen was given a guided tour, of the newest College of Further Education in the region, by Principal and Chief Executive Ian Prescott. Stephen was shown round areas such as; the specialist Theatre, Hair & Beauty Salon and Catering as well as the magnificent sports facilities.

Stephen Hughes is the Labour MEP representing over 2.5 million people in the North-East region of England in the European Parliament. The region covers Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and the Tees Valley.

Stephen commented, ‘This state-of-the-art facility is one that students, staff and the local community can rightly be proud of.’

During his visit he also took time to present this month’s student awards. 10 College students, five from the Peterlee Campus and five from Houghall were presented with awards in recognition of their tremendous efforts and achievements over the last 6 weeks.

Stephen told the students and their families, who attended the small ceremony, ‘I’m delighted to present these awards and hear about the fantastic dedication and effort you have all shown.' He went on to highlight the importance of training, saying, ‘Gone are the days when you could leave school and get a job for life. The impact of new technology and the speed of change now means that you will often have to retrain and update your skill several times during your working life. A great example of this was, one of the student award winners, Gavin Horniblow, aged 35, from Horden. Gavin is studying full-time at the Houghall Campus on a 1 year National Certificate in Horticulture. Gavin had started his career in the military, spending four years with the Coldstream Guards. After leaving the forces, Gavin tried different jobs but never found a job he really enjoyed and wanted to do long term.

Gavin said, ‘My last job was in a call centre and I realised that I wanted to get a job working in an area I really enjoyed. Gardening had always been a keen hobby of mine and something I really liked, so I decided to get the qualifications I would need to get a good job in this field.’

Gavin is now well on his way to achieving this goal. He recently applied to study at the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden at Wisley. There are only 14 places available each year on their 2 year Diploma in Horticulture. The competition for places is fierce and students apply from all over the world including Japan, China and the USA.

College lecturer Mike Hirst said, ‘It is an amazing achievement, I am thrilled for Gavin. I always knew he had a great shot at getting a place because both his academic and practical skills are of an extremely high standard. Well done Gavin!’

Gavin went on to say, ‘I’m really pleased Mike and the rest of the staff encouraged me to apply to the RHS’s Garden at Wisley, their help and support has been tremendous throughout my course. I hope the skills I learned at Houghall and will go on to gain at Wisley will enable me to fulfil my dreams of working in a grand stately home garden, setting up my own business or even travelling the world using my skills.’