Two highly committed students who have returned to learning at Reaseheath have had their academic achievements recognised with prestigious regional awards.

Rory Brace and Dayne Mcleggan each received a top prize and a £600 bursary for further study at the virtual Open College Network West Midlands Brian May ‘Access to Higher Education (HE)’ Learner Awards.

Rory, 31, who took an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award, is a former events manager who is preparing to follow his passion for horticulture and design by studying for a BSc (Hons) in Landscape Architecture.

Dayne, 27, awarded ‘Outstanding Commitment to Study’, originates from the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos and is to progress onto a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture Science at Nottingham Trent University.

Both have been out of formal education for at least 10 years and have been studying on Reaseheath’s Access to HE programme, which prepares students for entry onto vocationally focussed degrees. Both agree that their one year course has opened new and exciting doors to career opportunities which they didn’t know existed.

Said Rory: “I’ve never aspired to achieve academically but that has changed now I’m studying topics that I’m passionate about. I feel very privileged to be nominated for the OCN awards and I am overwhelmed to be one of the winners.

“To study at Reaseheath has been one of my best decisions ever, as it has given me the inspiration to reach my potential. After so long out of education I thought going into a classroom would be intimidating but all the lecturers have been very supportive. Although it has been hard work it has not been overwhelming, and I now feel ready to begin a degree which really interests me.”

Although Dayne has been based in the UK for the past eight years and has an extended family here, his ambition is to return to the Turks and Caicos islands and use his skills and knowledge to boost the local agricultural industry and help build the rural economy.

He explained: “Back home we have an almost total reliance on food imports from the USA and this drives up the cost of living. I would like to help raise standards of food production and animal welfare, inspire local farmers to adapt and produce a sustainable range of produce, and to set up local markets so the food is available to all. My end goal would be a government role helping to lower the overall cost of living, which would benefit all members of our community.

“My Access to HE course has been a great experience for me and I feel very surprised and honoured to gain this award. We’ve been taught by brilliant lecturers who have made our studies easy to understand and apply. I haven’t gained any qualifications since high school but, thanks to their support, I’m now achieving distinctions and merits.

“This course has definitely given me the confidence and motivation to fulfil my dreams. Studying at Reaseheath has changed my life and I feel that all my future success will be due to the guidance I’ve received from the lecturers here.”

To hear more about Dayne’s experience of the course and why he wanted to complete his Access to HE diploma, please watch this video: Access to HE student Dayne Mcleggan wins Outstanding Commitment to Study at the OCN Awards

Course Manager Vivek Mathur said: “We have all been very impressed with the positive and mature attitudes which Rory and Dayne have shown towards their studies. Both have shown an exceptional desire for learning and education and we are delighted that their dedication has been recognised through these awards.

“Rory’s commitment to academic excellence has resulted in a standard of application of knowledge more often seen at undergraduate level, while Dayne has displayed immense maturity in remaining focused on his aim to pursue higher education, not only to further his own career but also to serve the wider society in his home country.”

Kevern Kerswell, CEO of Open College Network West Midlands added: “These awards celebrate learners who have continued to achieve despite very challenging times, many overcoming significant barriers to do so. The need for lifetime learning was recently highlighted in the Queen’s Speech and Access to HE, as our flagship provision, delivers just that by providing an education vehicle for positive change.

“Reaseheath College provides a unique learning experience for its students and prepares them well for future higher level study and the world of work. Open College Network West Midlands is proud to be associated with Reaseheath and we look forward to celebrating the future success of learners like Rory and Dayne.”

Reaseheath College’s ‘Access to HE’ course prepares mature students for degree level study. For more information see