Celebrating the successes of learners at National Star

Here’s just a selection of some of the amazing things learners have achieved at National Star.


Poppy Goldsmith

Poppy Goldsmith took part in the Race for Life for a special reason – her granny.

The 20-year-old learner completed more than half the 5k event using her powerchair and by walking and raised more than £250.

‘My nanny died from breast and brain cancer. This race is important to me because my nanny was important for me,’ says Poppy who uses a communicator to speak.

‘My nanny always had sweets and chocolate at her house which she gave me when I visited. I will miss her.’


Saeed Majed

Saeed Majed has been selected to play for Gloucestershire’s disabled cricket team.

The 18-year-old day learner made his away debut with the Gloucestershire Meteors in the Super9 South West Division in a match against Somerset.

He scored his first runs for the county and said he loved every minute of it. Rain stopped play – and Somerset won the match – but for Saeed that wasn’t important.

Saeed, who lives in Gloucester, likes both batting and fielding and is cricket mad. He watches it as much as he can and his favourite team is Pakistan.

‘He enjoyed as for the first time he felt he was playing like professional players who he likes to watch on the TV,’ said Saeed’s father Dr Mahmood Ahmad.

‘He also played a full home match at Frocester Cricket Club grounds against Somerset on July 3 and bowled two overs. This was the first match that Saeed participated and that thankfully was not shortened due to rain. He got one wicket.

‘His coach Tim Polley and other team members are very supportive and encouraging. Saeed is going to Lord’s Cricket Ground and will watch the 4th day of the first Test match currently being played between England and Pakistan. He is planning to wear his Gloucestershire kit and is quite excited to see it.’


Beth Rees

Beth Rees competed at Crufts for the first time and won third place with her Cavalier Bonny.

The 19-year-old from Hereford said she was really nervous before the showing but now would like to do more.

Bonny, whose proper name is Embeth Bonny Boat, placed third in the Cavalier Undergraduate – Bitch category.

Beth, who has seven dogs at home, is studying customer services. Her ambition is to work with animals. Starting in September Beth will be doing work experience at Cheltenham Animal Shelter.

She says Bonny is a ‘cheeky dog.’ Her name is special because it is in tribute to her great-grandfather.

‘My great granddad had a pub called the Bonny Boat and we always said that some day we would name a dog after it,’ Beth says.



Ashleigh Burlinson came up with a winning business idea for National Star’s Young Enterprise group – an adult colouring book.

The colouring books, which feature art by National Star learners, are printed by learners at National Star’s social enterprise company StarPrint. To date they have sold more than 100 copies.

The team came second in the Dragon’s Den competition at the recent Young Enterprise Trade Show.

For Ashleigh it is proof of how much her confidence and skills have developed since joining the Skills for Work programme.

Bullied at mainstream school Ashleigh said she was so shy that she wouldn’t even go to the shop on her own.

‘When I started at National Star I didn’t speak. I wouldn’t even go to a shop by myself or if I went to the doctors I always left it to my mum and dad to talk.’

‘Now I am one who goes to the shops and talk for my sisters because they are the shy ones. I’ve changed a lot since coming to National Star and my confidence has grown loads.’

‘At National Star you feel like you can be yourself because no one judges you and it is all about what you can do.’

Ashleigh also won the Works Skills award at National Star.

Jennifer Burt

Jennifer Burt

Jennifer Burt can come and go as she wishes after learning to drive an electric powerchair.

It is a major achievement for Jennifer who has finished her three years at National Star and moved into supported residential care.

Jennifer has also found her voice at National Star. Our Speech and Language team developed a communication system that enabled her to spell out a range of words and phrases by touching different icons on a tablet.

Being able to express what she was feeling and what she wants means that she can make everyday decisions most of us take for granted.

Stephen Burt, Jennifer’s dad, said, ‘National Star has made an enormous difference to Jennifer’s life. Before College, she had no voice and no independent mobility: now she chats away all the time with her communicator, and can largely go where she wants, when she wants, in her new power chair. Thank you National Star!’

Georgina Williams

Georgina Willams

Georgina Williams had a date with the Queen when she was nominated to attend a royal garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland.

The 20-year-old, who will start her second year at National Star in September, received her invitation after she was nominated by her village community council.

In attendance at the party was the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal.

‘The Queen looked at me and gave me a little smile,’ said Georgina who attended the party with her mother Fiona.

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