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College celebrates Queen's Anniversary Prize over lunch

Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) hosted a special lunch recognising the commitment of everyone involved in achieving the recent Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Education.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize, a highly distinguished award within UK higher and further education, was given to the college in recognition of its innovative approach to healthcare education, particularly its efforts in tackling the shortage of qualified nurses in the region.

This initiative has transformed career opportunities and healthcare provision in Somerset, marking BTC as a leading force in sector-specific education and workforce development.

The lunch provided an opportunity for BTC to thank its partners for their invaluable support and collaboration, which has been instrumental in the College’s success. Attendees included representatives from Somerset Foundation Trust, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), The Association of Colleges, and St Margaret’s Hospice, all of whom have played a part in the initiative’s achievements.

Andy Berry, Principal and CEO of Bridgwater & Taunton College, said: “We are having a lunch to thank everyone involved in creating our award-winning nursing programme. This award is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and innovative spirit of our team at BTC.

“It’s a recognition of our collective efforts to make a tangible difference in the lives of our students and the wider community. Today, we celebrate not just an award but the strong partnerships and the positive impact we have achieved together.”

Taunton Deane MP, Rebecca Pow, said: “Achieving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Education is a tremendous achievement, and all involved should be congratulated. I am delighted that they have rightly been recognised for their ground breaking work being the first college in the country to develop and deliver nursing degrees; and so have become a pioneering force in helping to address workforce challenges in Somerset.

“From a standing start in 2017, they’ve now got 309 people on their range of nursing courses right up to degree level. In particular, it’s commendable that almost half of those attracted to the courses are over 35 years old, many having a career change and many returning to work post-children; and virtually all are later joining the health workforce in Somerset. This is something we have been striving to achieve so that we create a homegrown workforce.

“I shall continue to work with both the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to deliver the health infrastructure we need which includes the £87m new surgical theatre complex being built right now, and to link with University Centre Somerset to ensure we continue to tailor our skills and training to the needs of the area.”

Laira Pearson, Head of Nursing & Health Professions, said, “I am immensely proud, this award recognises the years of hard work from everyone involved. It’s wonderful to be able to pause and thank everyone who supported our journey, and to see our vision coming to life and the positive impact it is having.”

The event not only celebrated BTC’s accomplishments but also reinforced the ongoing commitment among all stakeholders to continue working together towards innovative solutions for workforce development and community well-being.

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