Wednesday 24th April saw the annual Keith Fletcher Awards held for Access to HE learners. Winners, runners-up and their guests were invited to the Houses of Parliament for a private tour, lunch and prize giving.

Gateway Qualifications were proud to be in attendance to celebrate the achievements of Michael Allport, runner-up for Outstanding Academic Achievement, and all the other well-deserved winners, recognising the incredible journeys of Access to HE learners, like Michael, throughout the country.

The day started with an awe-inspiring tour around parliament, taking in Westminster Hall, the House of Lords, the Queen’s Robing Room, Members’ Lobby and following in the footsteps of the Queen at the State Opening. The tour was followed by lunch in the Jubilee Room hosted by Nic Dakin MP.

The main event was the prize giving. Michael, now at the University of Essex, studied Access to HE Science and Maths at Colchester Institute and was nominated by his tutor Richard Farrar. We were delighted to see Michael presented with his prize and achievements recognised at this prestigious event.

“Michael was such a well-deserved prize winner, his work ethos and self-determination to achieve sums up exactly what Access to HE is all about and how it can change lives. I am so pleased that he has been recognised, and I am sure that he is on the path to achieving great things at university and beyond.” – Sarah Doe, Access to HE Quality Manager, Gateway Qualifications.

We caught up with Michael during the prize-giving:

“Having left school with minimal GCSE’s, I never thought entering University would be possible – but the Gateway Qualifications Access course enabled me to do just that. I am now nearing the end of my first year having attained firsts for my winter modules. My words do not give enough credit to how beneficial this course has been in achieving my goals and enabling me to change the direction of my career. I would recommend this to anyone in a similar standing looking to attain a degree.”

Michael’s tutor from Colchester Institute, Richard Farrar, also attended the awards ceremony and had this to say:

“Having the event at the Houses of Parliament added to the gravitas of the occasion, which was significant given that Michael was one of just four people receiving an award out of over forty thousand Access students in the country. It was great to be a part of something so special, and hearing Michael’s story and that of the other award winners demonstrated how Access to HE can change lives and make a huge difference to the life opportunities of adults returning to education. It was great to catch up with Michael again and hear how the Access course has helped him make a fantastic start to his degree course in Computer Science, proving that Access is an excellent stepping stone to university. Well done, Michael!”

A fantastic day was had by all and was rounded up with an invitation by Nic Dakin MP to visit the public viewing gallery in the House of Commons to watch the debates of the day.