Students celebrate success at Specialist College graduation

Celebration and laughter were the order of the day when 15 students graduated from our Specialist College in Harrogate at a ceremony on Friday 13 July.

A packed audience in the College’s Sports Hall, including the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Bernard Bateman, former Mayor Mrs Anne Jones, and the Deputy Mayor of Knaresborough Coun Tim Hunter, heard how each student had succeeded in gaining new skills and increased independence at the College.

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 told students how he had been bullied as a youngster and had missed his own graduation but had been delighted to meet them and find out how they were facing their own challenges.

Deputy Principal Lisa Hart explained how much she and other staff had learned from students, as well as teaching them.

Jono Lancaster delivers an inspirational speech at Henshaws Specialist College Graduation ceremony

"I feel so blessed, honoured and privileged to be sharing this moment with you, because when I see you, I don’t see excuses - I hear ‘yes I can’”

Guest speaker Jono Lancaster

The following student achievement awards were presented:

The Maxine Foster Award, given to the student who “most embodies the spirit of enthusiasm for life and living”, went to Philippa Eckford, who was described as friendly, enthusiastic and joyful, making other people feel happy and a pleasure to teach.

The Joshua Rayner Award for the student with a “unique and enthusiastic approach to their learning” went to William Whyte who had worked incredibly hard during his time at Henshaws, developing his reading, writing and speaking skills whilst creating some fantastical stories and animations.

A group of disabled students graduating from Henshaws Specialist College

The Jessica Fielding Award for “making a positive impact on others” was presented to Connor Sumner, who had shown empathy and care for everyone in the team at the Arts and Crafts Centre where he worked one day a week.

The Gillian Lawrence Award for “the student who has overcome personal obstacles and been a positive role model for others” was presented to Hafsa Tariq who had overcome sight and hearing impairments to be very creative and fiercely independent, with a positive relationship with staff and a positive attitude to her work.

The event ended with a performance by talented singer Marnie Lane who won the annual Henshaws Got Talent competition in 2018.

Jono Lancaster delivers an inspirational speech at Henshaws Specialist College Graduation ceremony

Follow us at 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 at our Harrogate campus and Bradford Centre.

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