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Against All Odds - Lucas Renyard (Eastleigh College) 

Judges in the 2021 NCFE Aspiration Awards selected Lucas Renyard from Eastleigh College as the winner of the ‘Against All Odds’ category, which recognises exceptional learners who have overcome difficult personal circumstances to achieve success in education.  

Lucas said: “Winning this award means everything to me. It feels amazing to know that my efforts have been recognised, and I’m so glad I motivated myself to keep going despite the circumstances. Thanks to the volumes of support around me, my journey in Further Education has come to a happy close; one that couldn’t have been possible without Eastleigh College. The laptop which I will receive as a prize will help make my ventures into university much easier, which is more than I could ever hope for.” 

Lucas’s excellent work ethic, enthusiasm and hunger for taking on opportunities and responsibilities, alongside his desire to help his fellow-learners, make him worthy of a nomination for ‘Learner of the Year’. However his tutors at Eastleigh College secretly nominated Lucas for the ‘Against all Odds’ category in the NCFE Aspiration Awards to reward his outstanding resilience and determination.  

In their award nomination the tutors described how, in the past year, when Lucas faced the challenges of homelessness and major health issues, he managed 99% attendance (only missing a lesson for a doctor’s appointment), maintained quality and timely completion of his work and achieved A* results. 

Ambitious after a difficult start in education 

An unsettled home life meant Lucas’s ability wasn’t fully harnessed at school and support was lacking when he moved to college for the first time. Two years ago he switched colleges and enrolled on the NCFE Public Services course at Eastleigh College where he dug deep, used admirable inner strength and truly thrived. In his own words “I’m in a completely different place to where I was two years ago.” 

Now 19, Lucas is looking forward to university. His consistent high quality college work has resulted in an unconditional offer to study Cyber Security at the University of Bournemouth. His ambition is to join the Border Force. 

A natural leader, driven, disciplined and professional 

Lucas is currently working at the college as an intern processing applications for people wishing to enrol in September. Before that, he was one of several learners who volunteered to work in the Eastleigh College Covid Testing Centre where he soon rose into a role organising rosters, supervising peers and developing signage to better communicate to those being tested. His efforts took the pressure off the employed team leaders.  

During his course Lucas supported his peers by leading the Level 2 bi-weekly drill for 10 weeks. In his own time he mentored others, passing on the knowledge he has gained from his studies and sharing his experience of alopecia with younger learners to help them face their fears.  

In addition to volunteering around 100 hours in the Testing Centre, Lucas undertook a project for Hampshire Constabulary, helped at a charity centre for people with learning disabilities and managed the college Public Services social media platform. This included creating highly engaging videos which were a key factor in doubling the number of applicants to the course last year. He was also the college’s Learner Governor representing over 1,000 learners and attending regular meetings with the college’s senior management team and governing board.  

Lucas also deserves credit for starting a petition to help future university applicants like himself who have no financial support from parents. When applying for Student Finance for his own university place he was frustrated to find applicants had to have been estranged for at least three years to gain additional finance. While reluctantly accepting the situation for himself, his petition requests that the three year qualifying period is lowered to 12 months. 

Steve Jackson, Lucas’s Public Services tutor sums up: “Having worked at Eastleigh College for five years I have yet to see a more driven and professional young man. I'm very proud to work with him.”