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Wiltshire mum gains Royal recognition after amazing learning journey

The Patrons Award is chosen by HRH The Princess Royal and is given to someone who has made a particularly special commitment to learning

Published 5 November 2020
Family and Community Learning

"It is never too late to learn something new."

That's the words of Wiltshire mum Hannah Wilkins who has received a special recognition from HRH The Princess Royal for her special commitment to learning.

Hannah was nominated for the Festival of Learning 2020 Awards by Wiltshire Council's Family and Community Learning Team after she took part in a number of courses with the team to help achieve her goal of becoming an outreach worker.

The team nominated her for the Festival of Learning (opens new window) award which is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England: its mission is to highlight the benefits of learning, celebrate achievements of adults who have used learning to transform their lives, and to encourage everyone to embrace lifelong learning.

Hannah achieved the Patrons Award. This award is given each year to someone who has made a particularly special commitment to learning, chosen by HRH from a shortlist of award nominees.

In a letter regarding the award, HRH said:

"This year's Patron's Award recipient is Hannah Wilkins. Hannah took the brave step of returning to education at age 28, having left school when she was 13 due to bullying. Motivated by a desire to better support her children and to embark on a new career path, Hannah has now completed over 20 different courses and progressed into further education. Hannah's story of determination and courage and the resulting transformation impact on her life gets to the heart of what Festival of Learning is about."

Hannah said: "My children have expressed how proud they are of me for going back to learning. It has changed our lives for the better. It has given me back my confidence to learn what I lost at a young age. It has shown myself, my friends and family that it is never too late to learn something new."

Hannah was nominated alongside fellow learner Monika Bednarz, all those nominated get a certificate.

Monika had a long break from employment and wanted a career change but was unsure of the path to take while still fulfilling all her duties and responsibilities as a mum.  As English is not her first language, she was also not confident with her English skills and concerned that this would be a barrier to her progressing further, and she was feeling isolated.

Through consistent application of her learning Monika began a volunteering placement in a school to gain valuable work experience. She then used the employability skills she developed to apply for and gain a job as an MDSA at school. Next Monika put in to practice the skills, knowledge and understanding of supporting learning in schools to then begin working at a Saturday Polish school for children, where she plans and delivers lessons. Monika is also demonstrating to her own children the fulfilment and enjoyment that comes from study and work.

Monika says: "By attending all the courses, I learnt many useful skills which helped me find a job and start my career. My amazing tutor helped me to build my confidence and self-esteem. She motivated me to apply for a volunteering placement in a primary school to gain first-hand experience." 

Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: "Congratulations to Hannah and Monika for their great achievements and I wish them both well in the future. Our Family and Community Learning Team have a wide range of courses available.  These include Wellbeing, Employability and Helping your child with school subjects. I would encourage more people to access these online courses to help with their learning."

The Family and Community Learning Team have a range of courses available online. These include:

  • Family Wellbeing
  • 9 x Employability Courses
  • Helping My Child with maths, English, science and phonics
  • Helping My Child to Prepare Positively for Change
  • Helping My Child with Anxiety and Worry
  • Build your budget
  • Transitions
  • Discovering Confidence
  • Confidence and New Directions
  • Positive Futures, plus many more.

More information can be found at (opens new window)

You can view the link to Hannah's story here Hannah's story (opens new window) which was filmed by the Festival of Learning.


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