Joy for inspirational Lowestoft women as they are honoured at council awards ceremony
The winners of the second Raising the Bar awards have been announced - and there was joy for dedicated people from Lowestoft.
The winner of the Young Achiever of the Year in the Post 16 category, Vivien Saunders, 26, says she was shocked at receiving the award, prompting her to say 'I am honoured that the judges thought so highly of me'.
Ms Saunders grew up in Lowestoft and attended Roman Hill Primary School before being taken into foster care. She also attended Roman Hill Middle School, Denes High School (now Ormiston Denes Academy) and the Lowestoft Sixth Form Consortium. Ms Saunders is a Suffolk care leaver and after completing her GCSEs and A-Levels in Suffolk she went on to Lancaster University to study a joint degree in Music and English Literature. She then progressed to undertake a Masters course and won a scholarship at Lancaster University to do her PhD, which she is hoping to finish this year. Less than five per cent of all children in care get to go to university and Ms Saunders is the first care leaver in Suffolk to have studied at PhD level. Ms Saunders was described by the judges as a 'determined and resilient young person'.
Ms Saunders said: 'The awards evening was breath-taking and just really lovely. I was just so inspired by the people that were there; everyone deserves the acclaim and it was a shame that they had to pick winners.
'I am proud everyone thought so highly of me and will try to live up to it and do them all proud now.
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'I now want to move on to teaching, possibly in other countries, as I really want to give something back to people.'
Reflecting on winning the award for Support Staff of the Year, Julie Mayo, who works tirelessly at Ormiston Denes Academy said she was 'very surprised but extremely honoured' to be recognised.
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Mrs Mayo was nominated for her work that was described by Raising the Bar judges as 'going above and beyond what is required of her in her job, as Project Manager, co-ordinating the academy's unique and highly innovative transition programme'.
Mrs Mayo also works closely with the Waveney Youth Council and community projects across Lowestoft. At the present time, Mrs Mayo is pioneering a calendar of events to help students make the unnerving jump from primary to secondary school after working at Ormiston Denes for the past 10 years.
'The more times the students visit their new school, the more opportunities they have and more confident they become
'I do a lot of work alongside the other fantastic support staff. We do whatever is needed to give students best opportunities and we want to make a difference to young peoples lives.
Mrs Mayo also added that winning the award was extra special for a number of personal reasons.
'It is my 50th birthday this month so it was the icing on top of my cake,' she added.
'It was fantastic to have been nominated but to hear my name read out on the night was wonderful.'
Sally Erb, acting vice-principal at Ormiston Denes who nominated Mrs Mayo added: 'Julie's work is exceptional and goes beyond just organising and delivering the transition program, as she recognises how difficult it is getting the group of children from A to B and will drive the school mini bus to pick them up.'