A WINCHESTER college hosted its annual Awards Evening to pay tribute to the 77 students taking the next step.

Peter Symonds staff, pupils and their families were joined by guest speaker Alex Lewis to celebrate the academic and personal talents of the 2019 year group.

Chair of governors Tim Rogerson welcomed the audience to the college and praised the efforts of students and the staff who had supported them.

Principal Sara Russell then gave an overview of the year, noting some of the highlights, including their excellent exam results.

When welcoming guest speaker Alex, she said: "We are enormously privileged and honoured that you have given up your time so freely to help us celebrate the enormous successes of so many young people, each and every one of them a member of the Peter Symonds Family."

Alex, who was a student at Symonds just over 20 years ago, gave an account of his experience living with quadruple amputation after contracting Strep A.

He told the audience: "You just don’t get second chances – I am an anomaly.

"I’m very privileged to get a second chance and I intend to grab it.

"You guys going on to university, work, travel, just take every and any opportunity. Grab it, no matter how ridiculous."

Discussing the highs and lows of his rehabilitation, Alex explained that his illness and recovery sparked a desire to help people, and described how he now spends much of his time working with universities to develop prosthetics and technologies to help disabled people. #

He talked about his achievements since his illness, including raising £50,000 to establish a wheelchair manufacturing facility in Ethiopia, which will manufacture affordable wheelchairs and employ local people living with disabilities.

Alex concluded his talk by saying: "This is a fantastic grounding, a foundation to build on.

"For you moving forward, you’ve had one of the best educations in the UK, and I’ve no doubt you will go on to do some incredible things."