Hannah Wilkins from Calne in Wiltshire was motivated to return to learning at 28 by a desire to support her children with their schoolwork.  

She left school aged 13 after suffering from severe bullying, which destroyed her confidence and left her feeling like she would never achieve her full potential. 

Hannah enrolled on a Confidence and New Directions Course run by Wiltshire Family and Community Learning at her local children’s centre, which was the beginning of a learning journey that transformed her life.  

After seeing the confidence course advertised on Facebook, Hannah decided it was the right time to return to education. She has since completed over 20 different courses and achieved level 2 in Functional Skills English and Maths. Hannah has gone on to take a leadership role by becoming a governor for Wiltshire Family and Community Learning.  

Hannah’s learning has had a positive impact on her family. She feels better able to support her children with homework, help them relax, and improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. Hannah is now pursuing her career goal of becoming an outreach worker, so that she can help others like her.  

Hannah has been selected by HRH The Princess Royal as this year’s Patron’s Award winner for the Festival of Learning Awards. Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.  

Hannah said, “My life had been about my children for so long that I wanted to do something for myself and work out what career I wanted. I have regained the confidence to learn that I lost at young age and shown myself, my friends and family that it is never too late to learn something new. 

Laura Trowbridge, Family and Community Learning Tutor with Wiltshire Council said, “The journey Hannah has taken to develop such a confident and positive vision for her future is phenomenal. Hannah is an inspiration to her family, and to all who meet her.”  

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said, “Hannah’s return to learning required great personal courage, but it has transformed her life and the possibilities for her future. Hannah has established a positive culture of learning within her family and shown her children that it is never too late to learn. We are delighted that HRH The Princess Royal selected Hannah as this year’s Patron’s Award winner.     

Festival of Learning awards celebrate the commitment and achievements of outstanding adult learners, tutors, projects and employers. These stories show us how transformative lifelong learning can be, not just for individuals but for families, communities and society as a whole. As we look to build back better after the pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to provide access to lifelong learning opportunities for all.”  

Festival of Learning 2020 Patron’s Award Hannah Wilkins

back to all of our news