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Celebration of Achievement winners 2023Winners of Celebration of Achievement 2023

Students from across the Eastern Colleges Group (ECG) - West Suffolk College, Abbeygate Sixth Form in Bury St Edmunds and One Sixth Form in Ipswich - were recognised and honoured at a prestigious awards ceremony that took place on Thursday 22 June 2023.

Held at the Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, the ‘Celebration of Achievement’ awards shine a light on amazing achievements across the ECG.

31 prizes were handed out in categories that encompassed educational excellence, commitment to equality, promotion of the environment and sustainability and leadership.

These awards took place amidst a backdrop of success for the ECG during the last 12 months that has seen Ofsted success – as well as academic excellence and support for a host of community projects - as the group sets about realising the vision of the senior team by positively transforming the educational landscape in East Anglia and across the UK.

Dr Nikos Savvas is the Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Colleges Group. He said:Our celebration of achievement is about honouring resilience, dedication, perseverance and unrelenting spirit. As you (students) face the dawn of a new future, embrace it with open arms, in the knowledge that each and every one of you has the capacity to achieve great things. The world awaits your talents, your ideas, and your contributions. Congratulations to each and every one of you.”

Dr Savvas also thanked parents, families, friends, teachers, tutors, mentors and staff for supporting learners across the group.

Guest of honour was Ryan Windsor who is Director of the Cambridge Architecture firm WindsorPatania. Ryan is a former student of the ECG who helped oversee the building of a new XR lab at University Studies of West Suffolk College.

In addition to the individual awards, a special CEO and governor’s award was chosen out of all of the winners.

The recipient of this accolade was Linda Seidel, 18, from Ipswich. On winning the award, Linda, who studies A-levels at One Sixth Form College said: “I was not expecting this - it is fantastic.”

Her mum Grace Seidel said: “Words cannot express (how I feel). This is one of the best days of my life.”

Han Colthorpe - a staff governor and head of performing arts at Conservatoire East - was the master of ceremonies. Music was performed a choir made up of West Suffolk College performing arts students called Amado. Food was provided by Edmunds Restaurant.

Linda Seidel wins top prize at college awards and her mum said ‘it’s one of the best days of my life’

Linda Seidel, 18, from Ipswich received a remarkable student award and also the overall student of the year award. She is a carer for her mum, a member of several college groups and at one stage faced homelessness. The One Sixth Form College (ONE) A-level student said: “I was not expecting to be named overall student of the year for the Eastern Colleges Group. When they said my name I was in disbelief. I will have them (the awards) on display at home. I would love to be an MP in the future and my time at ONE has been amazing. I’ve had so much support and it’s like a family.”

Linda is now off to Queen Mary’s University in London to study politics and international relations in September and eventually hopes to then join a fast track scheme with the civil service. Her mum Grace said that seeing her daughter win the award was ‘one of the best days of my life’.

Mariia Yakimenko came to the UK from Ukraine and is determined to help others by becoming a doctor

Mariia moved to UK from Ukraine as a refugee last year and has dedicated herself to helping others, raising awareness and money for people in her homeland and also for an orphanage in Thailand. Mariia, 18, from ‘near’ Bury who received a ‘community champion’ award said: “My host family were very excited for me and it’s great to be appreciated. I’m happy and thankful (to win this award). Studying at Abbeygate has changed my life. I have become more confident and independent. I’m hoping to become a doctor in the future and continue to help others.”

Freddie Rose has his sights set on Glastonbury

Freddie Rose, 17 from Whepstead studies A-levels at Abbeygate Sixth Form College. He won an educational excellence award and it stated that ‘Freddie is a remarkable student who has excelled in his subjects but also college life.” On winning his award, Freddie said: “I was really happy and it was nice to be recognised. Abbeygate has given me a sense of responsibility. I’m off to university to study music and sound recording at the University of York. My dream is to be a drummer, have my own band and play Glastonbury.”

Murtaza Nishat has embraced life in the UK by celebrating diversity and promoting mutual respect

Murtaza Nishat, 17, lives in Bury St Edmunds with a foster family after travelling by himself from Afghanistan. He won an equality award and a citation was read out saying: “Murtaza is an outstanding student that represents what it means to celebrate diversity, promote mutual respect and have ambition and strength as a learner.”

On winning this award, Murtaza said: “I have a part time job in a wonderful community cafe in St John's Street called the Old School Cafe. I have been attending West Suffolk College for the last 18 months and my teacher Polly has been both supportive and inspirational. She has helped me to learn English and adapt to my new country. I have become an active and positive member of my class and college. I am so proud of my achievements and I wish to continue learning and gain a place at University in the future.”

Chloe Taylor wrote a children’s book on sustainability to scoop environmental prize

Chloe Taylor, 16, from Haverhill won an environmental and sustainability prize when she took part in a competition and wrote a children’s book called Rory the Recycling Lion. It is now being used in primary schools to promote ‘green’ awareness.

On winning this award, Chloe said:Chloe Taylor: “To win this award has really motivated me to go on and do more - and proves that hard work pays off. I also think that other young people should take pride in their work because it really pays off. I have really enjoyed studying at West Suffolk College and am looking forward to the next two years at the College. I would 100% recommend this college because it provides so many opportunities.”