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Lifetime achievement honour for former Principal & CEO, Cathy Walsh OBE

25th April 2016

Cathy Walsh OBE, from Barking and Dagenham College, won the Lifetime Achievement award at the annual TES FE Awards on Friday 22 April 2016. Applauded for the fantastic turnaround of Barking & Dagenham College under her leadership, Cathy Walsh has been named the winner of this year?s Lifetime Achievement Award.

In September 2008, Walsh took the helm of Barking and Dagenham College, situated in one of the most deprived boroughs of London. She has not only transformed the physical fabric and curriculum but also shifted the college’s entire focus towards securing the best possible learning and employment outcomes for students and the wider community. She retired as principal last year.

Walsh’s emphasis on enterprise and innovation, and her steadfast belief in the capacity of FE to transform learners’ life chances, have driven her to take on the role of leading and representing the sector. She is highly respected as a national champion of the skills agenda.

Testimonials praise Walsh’s “laser-like focus, passion, energy and enthusiasm”. The judging panel was particularly impressed by the great number of moving statements from staff, students and business leaders describing the transformative impact of her leadership.

The judges said:

“Cathy Walsh’s commitment to her community and students, and far-reaching impact shaping the direction of the FE sector, make her a very worthy winner.”

Cathy’s victory was witnessed by over 600 people gathered to celebrate the sector’s achievements at the prestigious awards ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, on Friday 22 April.

Cathy said:

“I'm incredibly honoured and thrilled to receive the TES FE Lifetime Achievement Award 2016, and I dedicate it to the students and staff of our great FE colleges, particularly Barking & Dagenham College."

Other awards at the glittering black-tie event, hosted by comedian Shappi Korsandi, included prizes for the teacher of the year, college of the year and outstanding contribution to the local community.

Now in their fifth year, the TES FE Awards recognise and reward the achievements of the wide range of providers working in learning and skills. Hundreds of FE providers submitted entries for the 14 categories, which recognise achievement in employer engagement, innovation in teaching, leadership and entrepreneurship.

For more coverage of the awards, the full list of winners and photos from the evening, please visit or pick up a copy of TES, available in newsagents from 29 April.

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