Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

Student Who Won Wales Learner of the Year Award Announced as Runner-up in UK Final!

A mother-of-two from Glan Conwy has not only scooped the title of learner of the year for Wales, but she has also been named runner-up in the UK competition!

Coleg Llandrillo ex-student Lorna Hughes won the Access to Higher Education (HE) ‘Learner of the Year Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement’, which was presented to her - along with a cash prize – by Victor Morgan, Access to HE manager at Agored Cymru, Welsh awarding body for education and training providers in Wales.

The annual winner of this acclaimed award automatically qualifies for the UK student prize: the Keith Fletcher award. Lorna was named runner-up in this competition, just missing out to Charlotte Triolaire of Lancaster and Morecambe College. This is an impressive achievement given that every Access Validating Agency (AVA) in England, as well as Wales, nominated learners for this UK-wide award.

Now in its 11th year, the national student prize - in memory of Keith Fletcher, formerly of Open College South West Region and a keen advocate of Access to HE - once again produced a group of excellent candidates.

Victor Morgan said: “Congratulations to everyone involved, but especially to Lorna. These achievements are testament to the learner, but also to the Access to HE team at Coleg Llandrillo for providing an environment and experience through which their learners can truly flourish.

“Each year, we recognise and celebrate the amazing achievements of Access to Higher Education learners with our prestigious learner of the year awards. Often, learners have overcome major challenges in their life to gain qualifications and fulfil their aspirations of going onto higher education. Our award provides an opportunity to acknowledge and reward inspirational learners for their commitment to learning.”

Originally from Scotland, Lorna now lives in Glan Conwy with her husband, two teenage girls and a menagerie of cats and dogs!

Lorna didn’t always want to be a nurse. In fact, she read Languages at University and went on to work as a translator for many years. But, after becoming a mother and caring for her father, Lorna realised that there was something else she desired for her life and career: nursing.

She believed it was too late, that her chances of being accepted on to the university course were slim, however, as her children were growing up and becoming more independent, the desire to pursue a career in nursing grew. “I kept saying to myself, it really is now or never and if you don’t try, you’ll never know”, said Lorna.

So, she enrolled on the Access to Higher Education course at her local college, Coleg Llandrillo. Lorna continued: “I loved the Access course at Llandrillo, and my tutor Holly was so supportive and encouraging. I was 50 by this point and thought my age was probably a hindrance, but Holly helped me to see that this was not the case at all.”

Lorna gained all graded units at distinction level and was also named the Coleg Llandrillo internal Access Learner of the Year. Lorna was accepted onto the Adult Nursing course at Bangor University: “I started my degree in September 2021 and I’m so glad I did the Access course as it’s prepared me really well for academic life. Now I’m loving my degree course and my nursing placements and looking forward to a career in nursing at the end of the three years,” said Lorna.

Lorna’s tutor Holly Maxwell – who initially nominated Lorna for the award - said: “Lorna was an excellent student on the Access to HE Healthcare course. She became the course rep and provided both academic and emotional support to her peers when learners were forced to work online due to COVID-19. Lorna’s work was excellent and always completed to an exemplary standard.”

The Access to Higher Education programme is a passport to university-level study and has been provided by Coleg Llandrillo for nearly 30 years. It is a flexible programme which is designed for adults who have few, if any, school qualifications, but who wish to prepare for university-level study.

For more information about Access to Higher Education programmes at Coleg Llandrillo, go to or call the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.