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Celebrating ten years of Adult Learning in Suffolk

15 Jul 2021 2:30PM

For ten years the University of Suffolk and Suffolk County Council have been recognising the achievements of adult learners in the county with the Suffolk Adult Learners’ Awards. 

Suffolk groups and individuals have been recognised for their hard work and outstanding achievements over the past year at a ceremony held virtually. 

The Awards, hosted by Karen Hinton, Head of Student Recruitment and Outreach at the University of Suffolk, saw Harvey Gurnham Kaur Singh crowned the ‘winner of winners’ and Christine McGuinness recognised as providing ‘Outstanding Services to Adult Education and Training in Suffolk’. 

The Awards were organised by the University and Suffolk County Council. Miles Cole, External Relations Project Manager at the University, said, “Once again we heard incredibly moving and inspiring stories of the power of adult learning to transform people’s lives, empower individuals and communities and of the dedication of staff and organisations that provide it. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up and all those who were nominated in what has been a very difficult year.” 

Harvey Gurnham Kaur Singh was awarded ‘Inspirational Learner of the Year’ and then chosen by the panel in the final award of the evening being named the ‘Outstanding Learning of the Year’. 

Harvey's nominator Anne Graham at Realise Futures said “Harvey started in my English class in April 2019. She passed her Entry 3 Functional Skills in July that year and then started her Level 1 course in September 2020. When lockdown occurred, she continued her studies via a weekly Zoom class. She successfully completed this course, gaining her full Level 1 Functional Skills in August 2020. She began her Level 2 course in September 2020, while also studying Maths and chose to do this online due to work commitments.”   

Harvey works for the East Anglian Ambulance Service as an Ambulance Care Assistant working from A&E doing doctors’ urgent callouts. Therefore, back in March 2020, Harvey was immediately thrown into the pandemic. She was however determined to continue with her studies in order to reach her goal of being a paramedic. Anne added “Harvey made tremendous efforts to achieve her qualifications by not only doing the work set her but by doing more, coming up with ways to fit study in work breaks. This was someone who was determined to achieve her goals. I have found Harvey to be totally inspirational throughout my time of teaching her and I have every confidence that she will indeed attain her goal of becoming a paramedic.” 

Commenting on winning both awards, Harvey said, “Firstly I'd like to thank Anne Graham, for helping me gain the knowledge of the English techniques, for pushing me to be and do the best. She has been incredibly inspirational for me. I'd also like to thank Anne for nominating me, it was a totally unexpected surprise. This has been my biggest achievement so far, I'm still trying to process this attainment. My family and I are extremely ecstatic. I will continue to work hard and accomplish my goals for the future.” 

Christine McGuiness was awarded the ‘Outstanding Services to Adult Education and Training in Suffolk’ award. Christine has been working in adult education for over 30 years.  Her first job in training was as a training manager for a retail company and she enjoyed the training so much she took a leap of faith and took a 6-month contract to support unemployed youngsters into work at Lowestoft college. She ended up working there for 28 years. Christine had a number of different roles at the college but one theme through her career is that she worked in partnership with lots of community organisations running provision not just in college but also in various community locations. Christine is still engaged in adult learning and sits on the Suffolk County Council Adult Learning Board, their Quality Committee and, in the last year, ran the East Suffolk Council Futureproofing Adult Education project, looking at networking and gaps in provision across the whole of East Suffolk.  

Christine said, “I am thrilled to receive this award. I would like to thank Suffolk Adult Learners Awards for their kind words and thinking of me when I know there are so many people across Adult Learning who deserve this.” 

To recognise the way learning changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards featured two new awards; the Online Learning award and the Pastoral Support Award. 

The Online Learning award, sponsored by Suffolk Refugee Support, to recognise the achievement and adaptability of a group or individual learner, learning online was awarded to Gemma Ellis and Kim Chatfield. 
The Pastoral Support Award, sponsored by Ipswich Community Media, to recognise the member of staff or team who has provided exceptional pastoral support to a group of learners during the pandemic, was awarded to Adrian Figg. 

The full list of winners are: 

  • Learning Project of the Year sponsored by East Coast College- The Allotment run by Ruth Moore and nominated by Jamie Mortimer from Realise Futures  

  • Learning in Families; Bridging Generations Award sponsored by Suffolk County Council- Maxene Gallant nominated by Bernadette White  

  • Tutor of the Year sponsored by West Suffolk College- Sarah Lewis nominated by Chloe Travers From DanceEast 

  • Health and Wellbeing Impact Award sponsored by Realise Futures- The ICM Community Champions 

  • Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Suffolk New College- Selma Guelil nominated by Prachi Katdare 

  • Inspirational Learner of the Year sponsored by Gateway Qualifications - Harvey Gurnham Kaur Singh nominated by Anne Graham 

  • Online Learning Award sponsored by Suffolk Refugee Support – Gemma Ellis and Kim Chatfield nominated by Coral Garrard at Realise Futures 

  • Pastoral Support Award sponsored by Ipswich Community Media – Adrian Figg nominated by Pippa Judd at Realise Futures 


  • Outstanding Services to Education and Training in Suffolk supported by BT- Christine McGuinness  

  • Outstanding Learner of the Year sponsored by the University of Suffolk- Harvey Gurnham Kaur Singh 

Winners received a trophy, certificate and book tokens. 


University of Suffolk Press Office