Remarkable individuals have been honoured for their dedication and determination to learn.
Each year, Durham County Council’s Adult Learning and Skills Service recognises the achievements of its most inspiring students.
And after more than 140 nominations across six categories awards were handed out at a ceremony at Ramside Hall Hotel.
Cllr Maria Plews, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning said: “We are incredibly proud of our learners and it is great to be able to recognise their efforts.
“Many of our nominees demonstrated an overwhelming commitment to learning, overcoming personal barriers.
“Learning can provide us with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make real changes in our lives and our winners are wonderful examples of just what can be achieved.”
The “Individual Achievement” award celebrates personal success and remarkable individuals whose stories of learning will be inspirational to others.
Judges found it incredibly difficult to choose just one winner – so picked two outstanding individuals to share the award.
Jean Woods successfully progressed through a range of adult learning opportunities following a prolonged period of unemployment, developing confidence and communication skills, and gaining useful qualifications to increase her employability skills.
Judges said that while “daily life is quite often difficult, she continues to deal with very trying circumstances in a positive manner.
“It is testament to her resilience and self-determination that she now successfully holds down a job and continues to actively promote the benefits of adult learning within her local community.”
The second winner was Neil Armstrong, who judges said “clearly illustrates that there are definitely no barriers to learning.”
“Neil initially lacked confidence to engage with other people which prevented him from joining in with learning opportunities.
“But with help and support, he joined a furniture recycling course and quickly secured a new reputation as an enthusiastic, motivated and fully engaged adult learner.
“His memory, concentration, self-confidence, happiness and communication skills have improved incredibly within a short period of time, surpassing all expectations.
“Friends say they have never seen him so positive and engaged, and his wellbeing has clearly been influenced by learning.”