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Friday, 10 June 2011 09:26

VQ Day 2011

Welsh Wonder Woman Inspires at VQ Awards

VQ Day is about recognising and celebrating success.  VQ Day 2011 - or Vocational Qualifications Day – is hosted by Welsh ultra-marathon runner and TV personality Lowri Morgan at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on 22 June 2011. Be there to watch skills masterclasses, take part in 'have-a-go' sessions and be inspired at the VQ Learner of the Year Award ceremony.

Individuals who are using their vocational qualifications to inspire others and who are achieving beyond their peers will be the focus of the VQ Learner of the Year Award Ceremony.

And who better to host the Award Ceremony in the company of the six inspiring finalists and try her hand at 'have-a-go' skills sessions than Welsh wonder woman Lowri Morgan. Together, they'll make a veritable crowd of amazing individuals who grab life with both hands.

Lowri is an accomplished singer, musician and award-winning TV presenter. But above all that, she is the Welsh ultra-marathon runner who earlier this year won what must be the toughest event on the ultra marathon calendar, the 6633 Ultra: a non-stop self sufficient race over a distance of 350 miles in a frozen world where average daily temperatures are -25C. She faced eight days in severe Arctic conditions. She not only won the race, but was the only person to reach the finishing line - her fellow competitors dropped out three days before the end.

On top of the have-a-go sessions, masterclasses and VQ Learner of the Year Awards Ceremony, students, trainees and members of the public will be invited to quiz Lowri on her motivations, her trials, her tribulations and her role as VQ ambassador.

Joining Lowri will be the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert AM, the Chair of the National Training Federation for Wales Arwyn Watkins, and the Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales David Jones.

Also on stage at the Awards Ceremony will be the six inspirational finalists who are proving themselves to be a cut above their peers. They are:

Benjamin Morgan, a 20 year old motor vehicle student at Deeside College who has coped with serious personal upheavals and still achieved beyond his peers. He was recently named "FE Learner of the Year" by City & Guilds and received a prestigious Lion Award in Buckingham Palace. This was a crowning glory, having previously been awarded a City & Guilds Medal of Excellence. His employer, a garage owner in Flintshire, says Ben is his 'best employee to date' and entrusts Ben to run the workshop when he's away.

Christopher Lewis, who achieved top grades in his level 3 studies at Bridgend College and was instrumental in the development of student-led elements of his course, inspiring both staff and students. He was awarded the college's overall student Award for Commitment to Study and played a key role in the college achieving the national Beacon Award for Science. Still a young man, he has shouldered longstanding family responsibilities while working in retail management to support his future degree studies in Forensic Science.

David Bowen, a web design student at Coleg Sir Gâr who is on a busy schedule, preparing to represent the UK at the WorldSkills 2011 competition in October. He is one of only two competitors from Wales to be selected for the UK Squad and he has been honing his competition skills at national events in France and shortly in Australia. Despite his jet-setting and his ambassadorial role in motivating up and coming potential WorldSkills competitors of the future, he still finds time to study and to work for a web design company.

Eleri Evans - an unconventional and distinctive plasterer. A single mother of three, she first tried her hand at other things before finding her true vocation. She started investing in her future once her children started school. By now, she works as a full-time plasterer, she has achieved qualifications at level 3 at Neath Port Talbot College through Pathways Training, and she's been congratulated by The Plaisterers' Company for coming in the top four in the search for the UK Plastering Student of the Year.

Luke Thomas, a 17 year old catering student who only completed his studies at Connah's Quay High School and Yale College Wrexham last year but who's already cooked for Prince Charles and been crowned Future Chef of the Year. Aiming to be the youngest Michelin starred chef in the world, Luke has already worked at the premier Barbados resort, Sandy Lane. In addition, during his time with the Individual Restaurant Company he secured placements at some of the top-rated restaurants in the world, including two and three Michelin-starred restaurants in Denmark, USA and the UK.

Melissa Jenkins, who moved on to study a BA degree in Photography at Bridgend College, having previously achieved top marks on her level 3 diploma. Her work has been published in What Digital Camera?, Sublime and various national magazines whilst she set up her own freelance fashion photography business and shooting top designers' new collections for London Fashion Week. Her prize for winning the Nikon UK Student of the Year foundation award includes working with John Wright, one of the world's leading fashion and advertising photographers.

VQ Ambassador Lowri Morgan said: "It's a privilege to be part of VQ Day as a VQ ambassador and host for the celebration on 22 June.  I'm especially looking forward to hosting the VQ Learner of the Year 2011 award ceremony and learning of the achievements of Wales' home grown talents, made possible through vocational qualifications, hard work, dedication and drive.

"In addition, I'm delighted that my own story, testing myself to the limits, taking risks and persevering through to success might serve as inspiration for others. On VQ Day, I'll be highlighting the key highs and lows on the path my recent success in the Arctic ultra marathon. And after that, I'll put myself to the test again, as I'll be having a go at learning new vocational skills as part of the Have-a-go skills session. There's no letting the cat out of the bag yet. I have no idea what challenge I will have to face."


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