“Inspiring” day as students graduate at Specialist College

There were tears of joy and laughter when a record number of 26 students graduated from our Specialist College in Harrogate at a ceremony on Friday 12 July. Trustee and new Chair of Governors Chris Oates described the students’ achievements as “truly inspiring” in front of a packed audience.

For the second year running, the speaker at the event was Jono Lancaster, who has Treacher Collins Syndrome and has travelled the world visiting other people with the same condition.

He shared his experiences of his difficulties with the students and told them it was important to love themselves for what they were.

Jono and Principal Adrian Sugden presented the graduating students with their certificates.

Three men smiling at the camera, the middle one is a student with a visual impairment who is graduating from college

The following student achievement awards were also presented:

The Maxine Foster Award, given to the student who “most embodies the spirit of enthusiasm for life and living”, was presented to Harry Naylor who started his college career in its specialist autism provision but quickly built up the confidence to transfer to the personal social development programme, making great friends and excellent progress with his communication skills.

The Joshua Rayner Award for the student with a “unique and enthusiastic approach to their learning” went to Matthew Turner who, it was said, had engaged in his horticultural off-campus work experience with charm and enthusiasm and had embraced changes and overcome new and difficult challenges.

Three men smiling at the camera, the middle one is a student graduating from specialist college and receiving a special award

The Jessica Fielding Award for “making a positive impact on others” went to Kara Hancock, who was described as embodying kindness and always putting others’ needs in front of her own.

The Gillian Lawrence Award for “the student who has overcome personal obstacles and been a positive role model for others” was presented to Mary Hinde who has learnt to use a communication aid with head switches and is now able to communicate with others independently.


A female student in a wheelchair receives an award on graduation day

The event ended with a performance by student magician Matthew Glass who won the annual Henshaws Got Talent competition in 2019 and who is usually non-verbal at college but wowed the audience by overcoming his challenges to speak on the microphone after his performance to a huge round of applause.

Follow us at facebook.com/henshaws and see more images from the day in our Graduation album.

Find out more about the opportunities our Specialist College can offer for young people with SEND .

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