Inspirational Helen through to VQ Award Final
When “inspirational” Helen Wynne couldn’t find specific child care services geared to caring for her son Dyfan, who was born with complex needs, she decided to create and open her own business.
She expanded her qualifications and set up Blythswood Childminding Services in Wrexham, which now cares for 12 young disabled and able bodied children and babies at any one time but has 25 on its books.
As a result of her learning success, Helen has been named a finalist in the EU-backed VQ Learner of the Year Award. The final takes place on June 5 – VQ Day – at a ceremony to be held at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw in South Wales.
She will be up against champion Welsh butcher Tomi Jones from Llangollen and former Cardiff and Vale College student Leo Hacker, who now works for Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London.
It has already been a memorable year for Helen who has won the City & Guilds Vocational Learner Medal for Excellence, the top UK Tallow Chandler award and the Employee in Learning Award at Niace Dysgu Cymru’s Inspire! Awards.
“Helen’s service provides personalised and professional care and a valued lifeline to parents of disabled children, using her experience of caring for her son,” said Catherine Rowell, workbased learning manager for health care and early years at Deeside College, who nominated her for the VQ Learner of the Year award.
After achieving an Apprenticeship in Children’s Care, Learning and Development alongside her husband, Dean, through Deeside College, Helen began a Level 5 Diploma in Children’s Care Learning and Development, which she completed in just six months, using an online learning assistant.
“Her dedication has been inspirational,” said Catherine. “Helen achieved with work of a high standard in this exceptional timescale by sheer determination, dedicating every Sunday to her qualification after working all week and despite the fact that Dyfan sleeps only four hours a night.
“Knowing she has the highest qualifications possible gives Helen the confidence that she can work closely with parents and families that are in need and offer advice when they ask her about their child’s development.”
Responding to her award nomination, Helen said: “It’s lovely to get acknowledgement for something that I am really passionate about and for doing a job that I love. It’s so rewarding working with children with disabilities.”
VQ Day is designed to celebrate vocational skills and the success they bring, raise standards throughout Wales and identify and publicise exemplars. In addition, the awards highlight that vocational skills improve the performance of individuals and organisations and equip Wales with a world class workforce.
Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.
Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Jeff Cuthbert said: “ It’s important that vocational qualifications become, and remain, first choice options for our brightest and best learners and that their worth is fully recognised. VQ Day plays a key role in securing that objective.
“Vocational qualifications haven’t always enjoyed the high-profile and public esteem that they deserve but, as employers will readily testify, they are immensely valuable in preparing people for successful careers in many different fields. They are the cornerstone of a competitive economy.
“One of my priorities since being appointed Deputy Minister has been to ensure that vocational qualifications are recognised alongside academic qualifications for their value to the individual and society.
“That is why, following an independent review of qualifications, the Welsh Government is already taking steps to ensure that vocational qualifications remain relevant, valued and fit for the future.
“I hope that this year’s VQ Day will inspire even more individuals to consider a vocational pathway to success, further cementing the position of vocational qualifications at the heart of our economy and national life.”
VQ Day and the VQ Awards are co-ordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) with the support of the Welsh Government and part funded by the European Social Fund.
Three regional events in Wales will celebrate VQ Day by shining a spotlight on the quality, variety and diversity of vocational qualifications.
In North Wales, Deeside College’s Connah’s Quay Campus is arranging hands-on demonstrations of vocational skills assisted by a range of post-16 education and training providers.
The South West Wales Regional Learning Partnership will also provide hands-on opportunities at Aberavon Shopping Centre, Swansea City Centre and St Elli Shopping Centre in Llanelli. Local radio will be supporting the day across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Apart from hosting the VQ Awards ceremony, Coleg Morgannwg’s Nantgarw Campus will bring education and training providers together with employers to lead workshops and hands-on opportunities.