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City's top young

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

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THE courage, perseverance and skills of dozens of young people across the city has been celebrated at an awards ceremony hosted by Exeter University.

The annual Excellence in Exeter awards is organised by the university as a way of forging closer links with schools and colleges and encouraging young people to engage with higher education.

More than 180 pupils were nominated by Exeter's five secondary schools, as well as two special schools and Exeter College.

Their achievements, whether academic, in sports, the arts or community efforts, were recognised during the celebrations at the Great Hall.

Many of the young people have excelled having overcome disabilities or in the face of adversity.

A community award was also presented to St Luke's Science and Sports College in collaboration with Ellen Tinkham School. The award recognises wider school-based projects which have a direct benefit to the community.

Beach volleyball athlete and Exeter University graduate, Lucy Boulton was guest speaker at the event. Lucy has toured all over the world representing England and is also involved in the Sporting Champions scheme, an initiative that brings world class athletes face-to-face with young people to inspire and motivate them.

"You can waste a lot of time comparing yourself to others," she said. "But ultimately the only person you have control over is yourself and your actions.

"If you work hard, are disciplined and give it your all every time then, in my eyes, you are a success.

"It all comes down to goal-setting when looking at ways to improve yourself.

"You can never stay stationary in sport, you're either getting better or worse so it's all about staying focused and in the moment, pushing yourself every day to be your best."

Michael Keeling, 17, from the West of England School and College for people with little or no sight, is a determined young man who has not let his deteriorating medical conditions and eyesight affect his positive disposition.

He was nominated by the school for his involvement on the student council as a spokesman for less able students and constantly striving to ensure that ability, not disability is recognised.

Michael's goal is to become a lawyer, and he recently visited the University of Exeter's Law School, and sat in on a debate.

"I am a very proud person, so when I set myself a goal I try my utmost to reach it," he said. "I don't like to let thoughts get in my way and stop me from achieving."

Beauty therapy students, Jess Dillon and Laura Tutchings were among those at Exeter College to receive awards for their whose commitment to improving their skills.

Dennis Cawrse, also received an award for overcoming learning difficulties to achieve success in professional cookery.

Ian Blenkharn, head of admissions for the University of Exeter, added: "This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the success of learners at Exeter College and the city's secondary and special schools.

"As part of its long-standing commitment to the community, the university is delighted to have hosted the awards ceremony once again.

"It provides an opportunity for the city to come together and celebrate educational excellence across a wide range of fields – from outstanding academic achievement to triumphs in sport, art, music and community action."

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