Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) student, Andrea Horrocks, has been shortlisted for the Adult Student of the Year award with the Association of Colleges (AoC). This is a prestigious national award that takes into consideration nominations for students from colleges up and down the country.
The AoC Student of the Year awards highlight exceptional students across four categories and nominees are hand selected by a panel of expert judges.
Andrea’s name was submitted for consideration after she took home the Overall Learner of the Year award, as well as the Community Star award at last June’s Star Awards ceremony.
Her personal story of addiction, recovery and continued growth through learning – on top of her outstanding achievements, have resulted in her being highlighted for a number of accolades, culminating in the AoC Adult Student of the Year 2022.
Having left school with no qualifications, enduring much of her adulthood trapped in a cycle of drug addiction and then tragically losing her husband to a car accident, there was a time when the future had looked bleak for Andrea.
Since then, however, she has pushed herself to undertake a journey of personal growth and academic development which has helped her turn her life around. Starting in 2019, Andrea began attending courses with LAL, with an ambition to gain a range of knowledge, skills, and qualifications, so she could fulfil a role as a volunteer within the community.
Over the next three years, Andrea obtained qualifications in Money Management, Basic Life Support, Emergency Paediatric First Aid, Basic Awareness of Food Safety, Essential Digital Skills, Mentorship, and more.
In 2020 – amid the pandemic – Andrea also became the founder and director of WatchUSgrow, a charitable organisation and outreach hub in Chorley.
The success of this venture has led to her recently receiving approval to open her own recovery house in the town, offering support services for adults through their addiction recovery journey.
On a whirlwind three years, Andrea said; “The first certificate I ever received in my life was as an adult learner in 2019 with Lancashire Adult Learning, at the age of 51! It proves that it’s never too late to do something meaningful with your life.
“The Recovery House has been my ultimate aspiration and achievement. I was so thrilled to get the approval and it’s now fully established with three residents currently receiving support.
“I’m also aiming to set up another Recovery House, so watch this space!”
The Assistant Principal for Adult Learning with Nelson and Colne College Group, of which LAL is a part of, Andy Parkin said; “We are absolutely thrilled with Andrea and all the hard work and dedication she has displayed over the last three years.
“Her achievements are a testament not only to her resilience and strength of character but also to her passion and selfless enthusiasm for giving back and helping others. She is more than deserving of all the accolades that come her way and we couldn’t be prouder of her!”
This nomination comes on the back of LAL being awarded an Ofsted Outstanding rating back in March ’22 for providing educational excellence. When asked about being nominated for a national award, Andrea said; “I’m totally over the moon about being nominated as this is a totally new experience for me.
“I never believed in myself before, but LAL has given me so much self-confidence and has been massively supportive in the development of watchUsGrow. I’m truly grateful for everything they do.”
The winner of the Adult Student of the Year award will be announced at the AoC annual conference later this month and, if successful, Andrea will then be invited to attend an awards celebration event in London in Spring 2023.