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Salford City College apprentice announced as finalist for prestigious national award

Salford City College apprentice, Zac Challinor has been announced as one of the three finalists for the AOC (Association of Colleges) Apprentice of the Year Award.

Zac has undertaken a complete personal and professional transformation to pursue a career in the education sector. Zac has now started his Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Support and Learning in Schools and is working at the Albion Academy. He hopes to give the support and opportunities to other Salford students that he has encountered on his current career journey.

This would be yet another award for Zac who has picked up a Skills for Business Award for Intermediate Apprentice of the Year and more recently won Adult Apprentice of the year at the College’s own awards.

Jo Fisher, from Footlights Theatre Company, based in Manchester, first approached Zac to discuss his story about the Salford riots. The production, presenting both his and others’ stories about the events of 2011, was held at The Lowry Theatre across three days. The aim of the project was to present the different backgrounds of the people involved in these riots, whilst breaking down the barriers surrounding the stereotypes often associated with those involved.

Following the success of the production, Martin Hall, then Pro Vice Chancellor of University of Salford, visited Zac to discuss the opportunity of an apprenticeship, working in a school in Salford with young people who needed additional support and guidance.

After meeting the Principal, Jenny Langley, Zac became aware of the impact he could have on the young pupils at The Albion Academy.

From being given this opportunity, Zac strives for success, as he doesn’t want to disappoint those who have given him these chances and wants to achieve his best for himself and his family, including his daughter. Zac hopes that other people, in situations similar to himself, are given the opportunities he has received and is grateful to those who have put their trust in him.

Zac’s story has touched many people over the past couple of years including the staff at Salford City College who are very proud to have worked with Zac on this journey.

Debbie Ward, Director of Apprenticeships & Community Learning said, “Zac has completely turned his life around, he is extremely well thought of by his colleagues at The Albion Academy where he is doing an amazing job and has made a real difference. His attitude and his achievements are more than deserving of a national award and he is a credit to both himself and his employer and is an absolute inspiration to others and particularly the young people he is working with.”

AoC President, Ian Ashman said, “This year’s nominations for the Student of the Year Awards were of an exceptionally high standard and it is both humbling and heart-warming to see the impact that further education has on the lives of so many of its students. Zac’s determination, spirit and motivation are truly inspiring and makes him a worthy contender for this national award.”

Zac said, “It was so overwhelming getting the phone call to say I’m one of three finalists up for a national award. It doesn’t seem real. I would never have got this far if Salford City College and The Albion Academy didn’t give me the chance to prove myself!”

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.