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Teens praised by college for quick-thinking actions

Amber Kelly and Megan Hendriks with principal Anne Isherwood

Two Sunderland College students who came to the aid of a pensioner after she collapsed in the street have been presented with a special award by their principal.

Amber Kelly and Megan Hendriks were honoured for their quick-thinking actions at the college’s annual awards evening for 16-18 year olds.

The two catering students were waiting for a bus on Holmeside in Sunderland city centre last week when they saw the woman collapse in front of them.

They rushed to help the pensioner, with Amber calling for an ambulance while Megan, who recently completed first aid training with the National Citizenship Service, put her in the recovery position. The students then waited with the woman, offering reassurance and comfort, until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Amber and Megan, both 16, were praised by the ambulance service for their ‘initiative and maturity’, and the girls were handed an official Principal’s Award at the college event yesterday (Thursday).

“I feel very honoured to receive this award,” said Megan. “It’s not something I expected at all. The whole incident happened so fast and we just did what came naturally to us. We’re just so pleased we managed to help the lady and I’m really happy I had first aid training so I knew what I should and shouldn’t do in that situation.”

Amber added: “I think we are both surprised by the reaction we’ve received from people. We could never just walk away from the woman – it was just instinctive for us to help her. Receiving this award has been quite emotional for us both, and it’s so lovely to be presented with it.”

Anne Isherwood, principal, said: “The actions taken by Amber and Megan that day demonstrated exceptional citizenship, and it is only right that the college community comes together to honour this remarkable act of compassion and empathy.

“They are not only a credit to the college and their families, but I’m sure their actions will be an inspiration to other young people who may be faced with similar situations in the future.”

Megan and Amber were honoured along with 29 other current and former students at the annual ceremony which is designed to recognise the dedication and hard work of the college’s A-Level and professional and technical students.

Held at the college’s multi-million pound Arts Academy at Bede campus, the event featured speeches from guest speaker Julie Elliott MP, Rob Lawson, chair of governors, and Mrs Isherwood.

Star student Joe Phillips, 18, from Biddick in Washington, won the accolade for Best Performance on a Public Services Course.

Joe, who aspires to join the Royal Marines, was praised for his dedication and hard work to his studies, as well as his many extracurricular activities including his involvement in the student council and his role as student governor.

He said: “I am very happy to be presented with this award – it’s a good recognition of my achievements over the last two years. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the college and look forward to the remaining few months as I have learnt a lot about myself and developed my skills.”

When Joe completes his BTEC public services course, he will return to the college to undertake teacher training and then he hopes to secure his dream job in the Royal Marines.

He added: “I have a lot of options thanks to attending the college and I am very grateful to my lecturers for their support.”

Former student Ryan Stobbart, 18 from Gateshead, was also rewarded for his accomplishments during his time at the college and won Best Performance in Engineering.

Ryan achieved a triple distinction star in his BTEC engineering qualification and is now studying a degree in architectural engineering at Northumbria University.

He said: “I am extremely proud that all of the hard work over the two years I spent at college has paid off. It wasn’t an easy process but I’m incredibly happy with the grade I achieved which has allowed me to continue in higher education and strive for more.”

Ryan’s determination is unwavering and he has already set himself the target of achieving a Master’s degree in architectural engineering before building a successful career in this industry.

Another star student, Kate Ferguson, who achieved A* grades in her biology, chemistry and maths A-Levels, won Best Performance in a Science Subject.

Eighteen-year-old Kate, from East Herrington, who is now studying a biology degree at Newcastle University, said: “I felt very honoured and surprised to win this award, and it was great to see my past lecturers and ex-class mates at the ceremony. Going to Sunderland College was one of the best things I have done with my life so far. I think that the reason I managed to achieve the grades I did was because my lecturers were so enthusiastic and really encouraged me to do the best I could.”

Mrs Isherwood, who is retiring from her post as principal and chief executive at the end of the year, was also presented with a special gift by staff and students.

She said: “Once again, it was a delight to be part of our annual awards ceremony and to reward our outstanding students who have gone above and beyond in their studies and extracurricular pursuits.

“As my last official engagement as principal and chief executive, it was a truly memorable event which demonstrates the high quality teaching and learning that happens at the college.

“I am genuinely humbled by the amazing work that goes on in the college, from the exceptional teaching to the commitment of the support staff, and I will miss the vibrancy and enthusiasm that is embodied by the staff and students.

“We have achieved so much in the last three years and I’m confident that my successor, Ellen Thinnesen, will continue to drive the college in a positive direction.”

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