IT was a night of celebration as students and teachers revelled in the glory of their hard work over the past 12 months.

Smiling from ear to ear each award winner from Eastleigh College was cheered as they picked up their awards in recognition of their exceptional achievements and career success.

The college’s annual awards ceremony is the highlight of the academic calendar, giving both students and staff the chance to take a well earned break and celebrate their triumphs.

And offering words of inspiration to those gathered at the main campus in Chestnut Avenue was former bodyguard to the late Nelson Mandela, Chris Lubbe, who shared his stories of overcoming struggles to help make a difference in the world.

More than 40 awards were presented last night, including the prestigious Exceptional Achievement Award, which highlights a former student whose achievement has led them to exceptional industry recognition and career progression.

This year’s winner was Steven Burge, a refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice, who has had great success at local trade awards, right through to International WorldSkills competitions – known as the Olympics of the trade world.

Mr Lubbe said: “It was exciting for me to come here and see how the college is doing and how young and older people have got a second chance to do well. It is just phenomenal.

“Mandela always told me: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world’ and it was nice to see here so many people rewarded for their hard work and effort.

“I am continuing Mandela’s legacy. This is what he would have done and he lives on through me.”

The evening ended with the audience being treated to an entertaining dance piece performed by the college’s dance students to Hairspray’s You can’t stop the beat.