Wild Winners on a Monday Morning

Normally, I am not a great fan of Mondays but this week was a special exception – apart from having to get up early.  I can’t moan really because it was such an extraordinary day and a real privilege; we went to the West Midlands Safari park to celebrate the winners of the Adult Learners’ Week Award organised by NIACE (The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education). 

Kim and Anne-Marie accept their award

Kim and Anne-Marie at the Adult Learners' Week Awards ceremony

 I nominated a lady called Kim Taylor who I had met on a project with Norton House – a day centre for homeless and vulnerably housed people.  Kim and others made a film and worked on the ‘Braving the Elements’ display for Elements, our natural history gallery. In addition to making the film, they chose objects and wrote labels and text panels.  Kim impressed me with her perseverance and commitment to the project.  She came and got involved consistently despite the fact that she had a lot of personal stuff going on.  As a result of her work on the project, Kim was also honoured with a regional individual learner’s award because, although she has made mistakes, she has used learning to turn her life around and is taking small steps to make a difference to her life, often very courageously with lots of other competing demands on her.     

I met Kim at Coventry train station at 7.45.  We then went to Birmingham – we had to change trains from New Street to Moor Street.  We got slightly lost – I was navigating so no surprise there!  We got on the train in good time and went to Stourbridge Junction where we were met by Sally in her shining steed who took us to the safari park. 

The ceremony took place in the Tree Top Pavilions, a marquee that has a TARDIS like qualities.   From the outside it looks like a tent but when you go in there is a large ballroom with a bar and a stage.  Kim met her buddy Lesley and we had a cup of tea and a nice chat.  Then the ceremony compere Carl Chinn came and had a chat to us.  Kim and I were very nervous about going up on stage to receive the award – we were doing some breathing exercises in our seats to keep calm.        

Just before we went up on stage to make our acceptance speech, the microphone broke which was a relief for Kim but meant that I had to shout at everyone.  Luckily, my voice tends to carry so it turned out OK! 

There was a lovely buffet lunch with excellent cake (which I overindulged in I’m afraid.  Don’t tell my Weight Watchers leader!).  Then we all got on a coach and went for a tour of the safari park.  There were giraffes, rhinos, tigers, lions and loads more.  It really was a brilliant celebration for all the adult learners who had achieved so much against really steep odds.      

Congratulations to Kim – I hope that this is the start of something and that more doors open for her in the future.  You can see the ‘Braving the Elements’ display and video that was made by Norton House Service users on display in the Elements gallery until late summer.

Anne-Marie Sandos, Social Inclusion Officer

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Posted on 25/05/2010, in Social Inclusion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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