It was a glittering night of celebration for students and staff at Chichester College, as they came together at the Minerva Theatre for their 10th annual Star Awards ceremony.
More than 50 students and members of staff, from both Chichester and Brinsbury College campuses, received awards in recognition of their hard work, determination and exceptional achievement over the past year.
It culminated in the presentation of the college's Brightest Star of 2019, which saw Maciej Samelski awarded this ultimate honour.
Maciej, who is hearing impaired, first joined the college to learn brickwork in 2015, as a 16-year-old student with limited knowledge of British Sign Language.
He went on to join the furniture department, completing both his level one and level two courses in wood machining – and through hours of perseverance with out of class sessions he is not only fluent, but also teaching staff in the construction department the BSL alphabet as well as signs linked to the industry.
Lecturer Neil Redman nominated Maciej, and in his citation, he said: “His dedication and skill in all areas is an inspiration.
“We now have Maciej supporting us in Brickwork as a technician – a member of staff – and we are learning from him so that we can all communicate effectively.
“With the barriers he has faced, due to his hearing impairment as well as learning a new language – he really is a true star of Chichester College.”
Maciej was stunned to receive the award and added: “I am very surprised and overwhelmed. It is an amazing feeling.
“The staff here have been brilliant, they have been very supportive and they are good students too!”
The ceremony, which was sponsored by Creative Pod and the IPG, was a glittering affair, with a first-class performances to entertain the winners, guests and sponsors.
The evening started in style with a showcase of stunning theatrical hair and make-up looks, all created by hair and beauty students studying at Chichester College.
Theatre Inc, a specialised performing arts training company set up by the college to support young performers living with disabilities, received a standing ovation for ‘Not Just Another Number’ - a musical medley of numerically-themed hits.
And musical theatre students took to the stage for a trio of performances, taking inspiration from the latest West End hit ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ as well as a number from their forthcoming performance of ‘Bring It On – The Musical.
There was even a world exclusive, with a small preview of ‘Girlz’ an original musical written by college lecturer Daf Hughes.
The college will be taking ‘Girlz’ to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2020, with preview performances to be held at the college in June.
Andrew Green, Executive Principal of the Chichester College Group - and host of the ceremony, said: "To be able to celebrate the achievements of our amazing students and staff really is the highlight of my college year.
“We hear so many incredible stories of students overcoming challenges and moving mountains to ensure they achieve to the best of their ability – they are inspiring and they are the reason we do what we do.
“So to be able to spend a night paying tribute to them is just phenomenal. It is something I look forward to every year.
“We have been doing this for 10 years and it never fails to stir real emotion, just to witness the sheer determination that we see in these young people as they take steps to achieving their dreams is our privilege.
“We also take this opportunity to celebrate the work of our dedicated staff, who work tirelessly to ensure our students are able to succeed and are able to access some fantastic opportunities.
“Congratulations to all of our award winners.”