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AoC Young Student of the Year 2022/23 – Thomas Hepburn, Weymouth College

We are extremely pleased to share that our student Thomas Hepburn, has been named winner of the Association of Colleges Young Student of the Year 2022/23 Award.

The announcement was made at last week’s AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham. The Association of Colleges is the national voice for further education, sixth form, tertiary and specialist colleges and recognises the education and training of over 1.6 million students studying FE courses in the UK today.

The annual Association of Colleges’ Student of the Year awards celebrate students who stand out from the crowd and have gone above and beyond, whether in college or their local community

Young Student of the Year winner, Tom said:
“I was amazed that I was even being considered for such a big award and to have been chosen as a finalist from so many entries was fantastic. I have found it difficult to get my head around winning but am really pleased to have been chosen – it means a lot to me.”

Weymouth College Principal/CEO, Julia Howe said:
“As Tom was announced as winner, Principals and Senior Leaders from colleges around the country applauded and cheered. What a brilliant achievement Tom, we are so proud of you. You are an inspiration and you are an example of what an individual can accomplish with the right attitude and commitment. You thoroughly deserve this recognition. I would also like to pass on my thanks to the teaching teams and support teams at the College – you really do make a difference!”

At Weymouth College we are all incredibly proud of Tom and of the hard work and dedication that he puts into his studies. Tom’s story is an inspiring example of exactly what can be achieved with the right mindset and ambition.

Chris Bonney, Deputy Head of Engineering, Weymouth College said:
“Without a doubt my proudest achievement as a lecturer! Tom is an absolute credit to himself, his family and Weymouth College – I couldn’t be happier for him”.

Corrienne Peasgood, President of the Association of Colleges, said:
“Each year the level of applications is extremely high, and it goes to show the fantastic work that students are doing in colleges as well as the lengths colleges go to support their students. Well done Tom on winning you should be extremely proud.”

Upon completing a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering here at Weymouth College (and achieving a triple distinction star!) Tom is now working towards an HNC in Engineering as an apprentice with Tods Defence in Poundbury

Gary Hepburn, Managing Director, Sirius Business Services said:
“As Tom’s parent I am so incredibly proud of what he has achieved at Weymouth College and his absolutely amazing determination. I would also, however, like to recognise the commitment, support and efforts of so many at Weymouth College who helped to make this happen. We are so lucky to have such a great college in Weymouth, providing such a wide range of opportunities to our community and going above and beyond to be supportive and inclusive to all. The College really deserves this award as much as Tom does.”

Outside of work and study Tom is a very keen sailor having achieved the RYA Gold Award and is currently in the process of attaining the RYA Platinum Sailing Award through Chesil Sailability and now teaches other sailors. Tom is always busy during the summer sailing and sailing competition season and with his fellow para sailing partner Phil, they are the current UK Champions in the Hansa 303 class of boat.

Tom is also a very keen table tennis player playing locally in the Weymouth and District Table Tennis League and in the National Junior League against able bodied opponents. At the end of November, he is playing for the first time in a national competition against other para players at the British Para Table Tennis Open Grand Prix 2022 at St Neots.

Congratulations again to Tom from all at Weymouth College.

You can see Tom’s story at

Paul Appleby
Author: Paul Appleby