Almost a decade after leaving her studies behind aged 15, Kayleigh Watson took a daunting decision to drop her developing career and work toward her dream.

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The list of winners

School of Technology, Environment and Sports

Kier Construction Award for Outstanding Progression: Mia Heward

Norwich Electrical Co Award for Outstanding Progression: Michael Mackay

East of England Energy Group Award for Outstanding Progression: Lauren Peacock

Norfolk Construction Training Group Award for Outstanding Progression: Bruno Periera

Norse Commercial Services Award for Outstanding Achievement: Kristian Dyer

Copy IT Digital Solutions Award for Outstanding Achievement: Damien Kubinski

Waveney Insurance Brokers Award for Outstanding Achievement: Daniel Medlar

Chapel Doors Award for Outstanding Achievement: Noah Redding

Norfolk FA Award for Outstanding Achievement: Dominic Shaw

Bluespace Ltd Award for Special Achievement: Maria Bishop

Norwich Electrical Co Award for Special Achievement: Thomas Cossey

Kier Construction Award for Special Achievement: Richard Webb

Wildcat Aerobatics Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Alex Papp

Norfolk Construction Training Group Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Angelo Squires

School of Creative and Business Industries

Theatre Royal Award for Outstanding Progression: Camilla Batch

John Jarrold Trust Award for Outstanding Progression: Eli Davey

LSI Architects Award for Outstanding Progression: Daniel Gray

Archant Anglia Award for Outstanding Achievement: Thomas Adams

Bluespace Ltd Award for Outstanding Achievement: Max Bode

Clark James Norwich Award for Outstanding Achievement: Hayley Denmen

Norwich and Norfolk Festival Award for Outstanding Achievement: Grace Dodd

Aviva UK Award for Outstanding Achievement: Georgina Humm

Archant Ltd Award for Outstanding Achievement: Chelsea Watson

Virgin Money Award for Special Achievement: Laura Arnoup

Ultimate Impact Media Award for Special Achievement: Zoey Grey

Lsect and FE Week Award for Special Achievement: Corinne Haynes

Farrows Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Rebecca Croucher

Theatre Royal Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Fran Goodman

Playhouse Norwich Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Matilda Larrington-Spencer

School of Hotel, Hair and Beauty

Anglia Culinary Suppliers Ltd Award for Outstanding Progression: Robert Cromack

Mercure Norwich Hotel Award for Outstanding Progression: Harriet Crowe

Adnams Award for Outstanding Progression: Lysa Gedge

Newsmakers PR Award for Outstanding Progression: Natasha Pasco

The Mason Trust Award for Outstanding Achievement: Nathan Coleman

Sandra Reynolds Agency Award for Outstanding Achievement: Laura Gonzalez

Mills & Reeve LLP Award for Outstanding Achievement: Christie Scarle

Tribe Award for Outstanding Achievement: Amy Withers

Last Wine Bar Award for Special Achievement: Roisin Burnett

Dunston Hall Award for Special Achievement: Abigail Clipsom

Dewing Grain Award for Special Achievement: Sam Masters

Mercure Norwich Hotel Award for Special Achievement: Emma Seaman

Adnams Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Joshua Atkin

Anglia Culinary Suppliers Ltd Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: George Chapman

Sandra Reynolds Agency Award for Outstanding Community Spirit:Vanessa Millburn

School of Foundation Studies

Facilicom Cleaning Services Ltd Award for Outstanding Progression: Kieran Gibbs

John Jarrold Trust Award for Outstanding Progression: Sam Newstead

Chapel Doors Award for Outstanding Progression: Aurimas Ciocys

Aviva UK Award for Outstanding Progression: Liam Walls

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Award for Outstanding Achievement: Jessica Freestone

Snelling Business Systems Award for Outstanding Achievement: Sarah-Louise Goodwin

Interpac Award for Outstanding Achievement: Joseph Longhurst

Waveney Insurance Brokers Award for Special Achievement: Kieran Buckland

Norse Commercial Services Award for Special Achievement: Sam Johnson

Norfolk FA Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Leshawn Naurayan

M+A Partners Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Joshua Pennington

Chartwells Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Romeo Reszegi

School of Health and Community Studies

Once Upon A Time Nursery Award for Outstanding Progression: Kay Hornsey

Inspired Change Award for Outstanding Progression: Paige McDonnell

Facilicom Cleaning Services Ltd Award for Outstanding Progression: Victoria Warren-Potter

Admin Re Award for Outstanding Progression: Tom Wasmuth

OpenContact Award for Outstanding Achievement: Francesca Connor

Norfolk County Council Award for Outstanding Achievement: Lee Cutts

Howes Percival Award for Outstanding Achievement: Sophie Dade

Norse Commercial Services Award for Outstanding Achievement: Joan Latta

Norwich City Council Award for Special Achievement: Kerrie Bayes

Copy IT Digital Solutions Award for Special Achievement: Chloe Carter

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Award for Special Achievement: Rachel Saunders

The Mason Trust Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Joanna Duffell

Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance Award for Outstanding Community Spirit: Piers Grey

Sixth Form Centre

The Forum Trust Award for Outstanding Progression: Thomas Browes

Lsect and FE Week Award for Outstanding Progression: Sam Gibbs

Alan Boswell Group Award for Outstanding Progression: Hao Chen Zhu

Newsmakers PR Award for Outstanding Achievement: Karina Adcock

Mills & Reeve LLP Award for Outstanding Achievement: Mehvash Ahmad

Waveney Insurance Brokers Award for Outstanding Achievement: Elliot Byford

Archant Ltd Award for Outstanding Achievement: Sinead Carey

LSI Architects Award for Outstanding Achievement: Ben Pollock

Validus IVC LTD Award for Outstanding Achievement: Aaron Smith

Farrows Award for Outstanding Achievement: Jessica Storey

Snelling Business Systems Award for Outstanding Achievement: George Worrall

Howes Percival Award for Special Achievement: Isobel Bailey

Admin Re Award for Special Achievement: Lauren Burrows

Archant Anglia Award for Special Achievement: Rebecca Hanley

Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by City College Norwich’s StartUp Lounge: Bethany Spring

Enhancing the Student Experience Award, sponsored by City College Norwich’s Students’ Union: Kevin Skipper

The James Barr Memorial Award for Access to Higher Education Student of the Year: Kayleigh Watson

The Governors’ Robert Walton Award for Outstanding Contribution to College Life: Matthew Perry

The Governors’ Award for Outstanding Student Achievement: Emma Pottle

Miss Watson, of Hellesdon, left the East of England Ambulance Service after five years to study at City College Norwich, with the initial aim to see how things went.

But she also had a further desire to study forensic anthropology - in short, the study of dead people - at university.

And as Miss Watson, 25, spoke on the telephone yesterday from the University of Dundee on day three of a four-year course on the subject, it appeared everything she did while working towards her dream worked like a dream.

On Wednesday night, her outstanding achievement of scoring top marks in her natural science diploma helped secure her the James Barr Memorial for Access to Higher Education Student of the Year award.

But this was only part of her story from the last 12 months.

Miss Watson’s award is named after science lecturer James Barr, who taught at the college for seven years and was one of those helping her back into education.

He died on September 28 last year - three weeks into Miss Watson’s course.

The mature student was among those who tried to save his life, with her skills from working for the ambulance service urgently needed before paramedics arrived.

Miss Watson said: “I had to carry out CPR on him - in the situation we were in at the time, there was not a lot of medical staff around.

“A lot of people there were more mature students going back into education and we looked at our lecturers to be there and to help us through a difficult time.

“It was a real big shock to the system, not only to the tutors but the class as well. It took the college a bit of time to get back on its feet.

“Apart from the emotional aspect of losing a tutor, we missed a few weeks of education.”

But Miss Watson said the experience of Mr Barr’s death pulled the group together as they sought to cope without their “dynamic” teacher.

She said: “We had already been treated to his way of teaching. Within his first class he was demonstrating the movement of molecules by throwing balls around the classroom.

“He really got people excited about chemistry. I’m not a huge fan [of chemistry] but there was a real excitement over the whole day. He had a laugh and he explained things in such a way that you didn’t feel you were being force-fed information. It was fun.”

Out of class and Miss Watson was also dealing with the breakdown of a long-term relationship.

But despite the emotional challenges presented to her within a short space of time, she was not deterred.

The college’s eighth further education awards ceremony in Norwich celebrated outstanding progress of students.

Furthermore, the winners were also viewed to have gone far above and beyond the requirements of their course while overcoming barriers to learning and for outstanding community spirit.

Miss Watson said: “I was over the moon to win. I can’t say how pleased I was. I don’t often win much but the year I had while doing the access course was probably one of the most difficult of my life.”

Miss Watson said securing top marks in her exams was enough recognition.

But she added: “For someone else to step in and recognise the challenges I’ve faced, it’s overwhelming. It gives me extra confidence going into the next step.”

That next step is already under way, with Miss Watson admitting she was “fearful” of the jump from college to university. However, she says the award has strengthened her belief - along with her experience of the course following a traumatic start.

Miss Watson said: “The absolute support we got from our remaining tutors was vital and the support from the rest of the group.

“Without that support, not just myself but the whole group, we would not have done what we did.”

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