L R Rachel Edwards, Carol Vorderman, Jane Edwards

An award winner from ITV’s long-running Pride of Britain awards has been paid a special return visit by the show’s host Carol Vorderman, MBE in her role supporting students at the Wigston Campus of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College.

Rachel Edwards, former student and now employability coach at the college was recognised as a ‘Child of Courage’ at the third Pride of Britain Awards in April 2001 when she was just seven years old. Rachel had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of four months but overcame the odds and showed such determination that she was eventually able to take part in sports day at Thythorn Field Primary school. Throughout her childhood, Rachel refused to allow her disability to prevent her from taking up sports and she went on to achieve success in wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball, participating in a roadshow for the Paralympic Games to promote sport for people with disabilities.

Rachel qualified in health and social care at the college’s Wigston Campus in 2014 and went on to graduate from De Montfort University with a degree in education studies following which she worked in sports development for Harborough District Council. Rachel joined the college just over a year ago in a role helping students to focus on their career goals and polish their employability skills.

She said, “I am really proud of what I have achieved especially since I was once told by a careers adviser that, as a wheelchair user, I would never be able to teach. I was so excited to hear that Carol Vorderman was coming to my workplace to witness me in front of a class taking a tutorial on mental health. She was so friendly, and I remember making a strong connection with her when I received my award nearly twenty years ago. However, the highlight of my Pride of Britain experience was being presented with my award by Robbie Williams whom I adored.”

In her college role as employability coach, Rachel supports students on business and travel and tourism programmes helping to keep them on track with their studies, advising with any mental health issues or behavioural difficulties. Never daunted by a challenge, Rachel took the brave step of performing a solo stand-up comedy routine for a slot on 23 November at Blueprint in Leicester as part of an event organised to raise money for Cancer Research.

The Pride of Britain Awards, organised in association with the Daily MirrorLidlITVGood Morning Britain and The Prince’s Trust, was first televised on ITV in 2000 and is designed to honour people who have acted bravely or extraordinarily in challenging situations. Award winners are chosen by a panel of celebrities and well-known figures from a range of backgrounds, and has included multiple appearances by Simon CowellRichard BransonFiona PhillipsChristine BleakleySir John StevensSir Magdi YacoubRichard WallaceEamonn Holmes and Aled Jones.

Dawn Helsby Student Employability Manager at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College said, “Rachel is just a brilliant member of staff and she still has the same smile that beams out of her photo as a seven-year-old award winner. Despite struggling at times with the impact of her health issues, Rachel never lets this get in the way of her work. She always has students knocking on the door coming in to ask her advice, and she really helps them to stay on track and keep focused on their goals. Rachel is a good listener and a great communicator. She is very good at enlisting the help of parents in getting students who are not attending to come back into college. We’re delighted to see her recognised in this way by the Pride of Britain team and are sure that she will continue to go from strength to strength in her college role.”

Rachel was filmed for the ‘Pride of Britain: Celebrating 20 Years’ programme which is due to be screened on ITV at 5pm on Sunday 22 December 2019.