Shropshire specialist college celebrates winning Queen's Award for Enterprise

A specialist college in Shropshire has celebrated winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise - one of the last to be given before the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Lord-Lieutenant Anna Turner and the Mayor of Oswestry Jay Moore with staff and students from the college
Lord-Lieutenant Anna Turner and the Mayor of Oswestry Jay Moore with staff and students from the college

Derwen College, at Gobowen, near Oswestry, won the award in the Promoting Opportunity category.

To mark the achievement, the college held a celebration event where it was presented with a trophy and official scroll by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner.

She also delivered a personal letter of congratulations from Derwen College patron the Duchess of Kent.

The college said the event was particularly poignant following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Derwen College was established in 1927 by Dame Agnes Hunt, and provides education and vocational training for young people aged 16 to 25 with special educational needs and disabilities.

It operates several businesses at its on-site ‘Marketplace’. Students learn work skills in a garden centre, café, restaurant, charity shop and a small hotel developed in conjunction with Premier Inn. They are then supported to progress to external work placements where appropriate.

The college achieves outcomes that far exceed the national average for people with special education needs, including progression into paid employment, voluntary work, further training, increased independence and supported living.

The presentation, held in the college’s Orangery Restaurant, was hosted by Derwen College chair of governors Kathleen Kimber and principal & CEO Meryl Green, and was attended by Mayor of Oswestry, Jay Moore, the chair of Selattyn and Gobowen Parish Council, Councillor Craig Emery, and Deputy Lieutenants of Shropshire Mandy Thorn and Veronica Lillis.

Afternoon tea was served by students working on the college’s Hospitality & Food pathway. Guests were able to meet some of the students, volunteers and staff who learn and work in the college’s Marketplace businesses.

Mrs Turner said: “When I heard that Derwen College had won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, my pride soared.

“This is a very high award for amazing businesses; a much sought-after award for high achievers. Derwen has been recognised for being exceptional at promoting opportunity.

"Derwen College is one of only a very small number of organisations recognised in this category nationally. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is a globally recognised business excellence award and probably the best-known accolade for businesses world wide.”

Principal & CEO Meryl Green, who attended a reception at Buckingham Palace in July, said: “Derwen College is having an exceptional year for awards; for our educational and care provision, and for our business, Marketplace. We are very proud to receive this distinguished award, and would like to thank all our staff, students, families, and the community who support our college, our charity and our Marketplace. None of this happens without an amazing team, and we certainly have that at Derwen!”

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