Prestigious Principal’s Award For Student After Overcoming Countless Challenges to Succeed

A STUDENT who was born prematurely with spina bifida and missed so much school he left without a single GCSE is celebrating success as he catches up with his learning at college.

Jacob Kaye has just collected the coveted Principal’s Award, the top accolade at Darlington College’s annual prize-giving ceremony, staged at the Hullaballoo Theatre.

He was chosen by principal David Gartland and his executive team after overcoming countless challenges in his life.

“I was born with spina bifida and couldn’t walk until I was about three,” said the 20-year-old, of Colburn. “I was a late developer and missed a lot of school because I was always away at medical appointments and having MRI scans.

“I tried my best at school but was always bottom of the class and left with no GCSEs. But since coming to Darlington College I have passed my GCSE English and am studying Level 2 functional skills so I will be able to go to university to read occupational therapy.

“College made such a difference. I still have time off but the tutors always help me catch up and they are so supportive. The NHS has always been really good to me which is why I want to work for them to pay them back and because I like to care for others.”

In his time at Darlington College Jacob has also successfully completed L2 health and social care, a L2 teaching assistant course, L2 early years practitioner and L3 health and social care. He is currently taking the extended health and social care diploma to gain extra UCAS points.

At the awards ceremony he was also presented with the curriculum managers award. “I was so shocked to win the Principal’s Award, I can’t quite take it in,” he said.

Compere former editor Peter Barron told guests: “Jacob has worked hard to overcome challenges, never lets anything stop him from contributing fully in class or handing assignments in on time and to a high degree. He always catches up with work and often stays behind after college so teaching staff can go through the work he has missed. He has demonstrated an outstanding work ethic.

“Jacob has had to overcome personal issues and has had to adapt to supporting himself financially through some benefits and a part time job in care, ensuring that this has not interfered with his studies. He has achieved all of this himself, demonstrating a strength of character that is outstanding. Throughout all of this, Jacob has remained the most caring, diligent student. He has an aura of warmth and acceptance and demonstrated qualities required for working with vulnerable people.”

Awards were presented for full- and part-time further education, apprenticeships, adult skills and football of the year.

Mr Gartland told students and their families: “The awards are for everything you have achieved which have demonstrated determination and resilience, traits that will serve you well in college and in life.

“Your personality and character will also get you through and we know you will go on to do amazing things. Lots of people go to college but not many end up at an awards ceremony. You should feel rightly proud so take a moment to enjoy it.” 


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