EastEnders star Richard Blackwood surprised guests and students this evening when he joined them on stage to celebrate the amazing academic achievements of New City College's award-winning students.
Richard, who played the character Vincent Hubbard in the hit BBC soap until earlier this year was the special guest at the college's annual student achievement awards held at the Grange Hotel in London.
The awards, which are the highlight of the college's academic year, brought together student award winners from three of the college's campuses located in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Redbridge.
A total of 28 awards were presented by Richard Blackwood on the night to high performing students from across the college's curriculum.
Speaking during the event, Richard Blackwood said:
I've been really impressed by tonight's award winners. There have been some amazing personal stories of overcoming the odds. Events like this give the students a taste of success and show them they are on the right path and by working hard there can be more rewards for them later on in their lives.
The audience heard personal speeches from three former college students including Nazia Begum, now studying architecture at the University of East London, Chris Barnes who is working as a professional carpenter and Naim Faisel, who is studying for a master's degree at the London School of Economics.
On a night of brilliant student performances, there were some students who had overcome personal tragedies and health issues to continue their studies and excel.
Particular highlights on the night included:
Anas Murdi Mohammed Al-Humsi winning the Adult ESOL student of the year award. He suffered a personal tragedy when his family were killed in the war in Syria. He arrived in the UK, having made most of the journey on foot and entered the college's ESOL programme and has made such fast progress impressing his teachers with his determination to learn to help him pursue a career as an electrician.
Mohammed Abdul Abid Hussain, winning the Group Principal's award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. As well as studying for his BTEC science diploma, Mohammed has battled kidney disease and has faced completing his studies alongside making decisions about transplants. Yet, he hasn't let that stop him achieving top grades and placements at two of London's leading medical hospitals.
Bernadina Dos Santos, who is originally from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, won the Creative Arts and Fashion Student of the Year award. A single mother, she rises at 4 am every morning to go to work, returns home for the school run and then prepares for and arrives at college on time. She has progressed from studying ESOL alongside fashion and is hoping to design her own garments and open her own fashion business in the future.
Noufissa Benelbaida was awarded the health and social care student of the year award. An adult student who returned to work after being a full-time mum to her six children. She secured a place on the highly competitive and prestigious King's College University midwifery degree course and excelled on her Access to HE course. She did not let her severe dyslexia stop her meeting the academic challenge and produced written work to a very high standard.
Arkin Attila-Murray won the award for excellence in contributing to college life for producing a film focusing on the issue of knife crime. His idea was inspired by the artist Banksy and he developed an intelligent, yet emotive short film which was successful in getting young people to stop and think.
Fouziha Rahman was awarded the Corporation Award for Adult Learner of the Year. Fouziha joined the college's Access course programme after recovery from a horrible accident which almost ended her life and she has only a three per cent survival rate. She suffered a brain injury and is slower in processing information than other students. Despite this, she has completed her demanding Access course and achieved 11 distinctions and four merits in the 15 graded units on the course.