There was nobody more surprised than Sam Taylor when she found out that she had landed the title of VQ Learner of the Year for the North East.
The 26 year-old from Redcar is a member of the therapeutic care administration team, based at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Sam, who has a first class degree in performing arts but had struggled to find a job and , began a work programme (PROSPECT) with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust volunteering at the hospital in October 2013 which is a skills and training programme delivered in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus.
In January 2014, Sam successfully completed the PROSPECT programme and went onto secure full-time employment with the trust as a consequence and has never looked back. She said: “The PROSPECT programme was intense training of 30 hours a week, but definitely helped me to change career. I love coming to work here every day. Each one is so different from the last and it’s the volunteers who pop into the office and recall their stories that really make each day so special.
“I never thought I’d work in a hospital and I’m blessed to hear all these stories. My manager Debi McKeown has been my rock. She’s always giving me, and the other volunteers she looks after, confidence to stretch ourselves.”
Sam was nominated for VQ Learner of the Year Award for the North East, by Claudia Godfrey, vocational training manager at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Claudia said the feedback she received from the regional judging panel was that “they were incredibly impressed with Sam’s dedication and commitment to her studies and commented to Sam, ‘you are an excellent example of the success that can be achieved through taking vocational qualifications’.”
On receiving the news Sam said. “I was flabbergasted at being nominated, but to have won the regional award is just amazing. Completing a vocational qualification has given me the skills and drive to pursue my chosen career and I am delighted that my hard work has been recognised. I would highly recommend vocational learning to others and I hope VQ Day inspires others to explore the wide range of training options and choose a path best suited to their individual skills and interests.”
Sam now goes forward with 12 other regional winners to the national finals in London on Tuesday 9 June where the VQ Learner of the Year Award for England 2015 will be announced.