Catering student cuts the mustard at awards night

James Levey, front row centre, with other award winners
James Levey, front row centre, with other award winners
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A CATERING college student has cooked up a massive turnaround that has seen him go from class bad boy to Student of the Year.

James Levey, 19, of Sherington Bridge, Sherington, was presented with the award at Milton Keynes College’s 2011 Hotel, Catering and Hospitality Awards which were held at Woburn Sculpture Gallery last Wednesday.

James Levey - Student of the Year 2011

James Levey - Student of the Year 2011

But just last year James was on the brink of being kicked out of the college after receiving a number of ‘red cards’ from his tutors.

Mark Lewis, the college’s manager for Catering and Enterprise, said: “In his first year with us, James received 52 red alert slips, which are warnings for things like incomplete work and not turning up,

“In his second year, he got 47. We’d given him so much encouragement and support, but it just wasn’t working and we had to say he couldn’t come back for his third year.”

At that point James, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia (ADHD), realised he may have run out of chances.

He said: “My heart just sank. Catering is the only thing I’ve ever been good at. Finally, I realised it was down to me to change. I’ve never been so determined.”

He appealed the decision and managed to convince the college he would knuckle down.

Mark added: “When he came back in September he was a completely different student. He was mature, driven and ambitious and it was a remarkable transformation.”

Now James is about to start work as a demi-chef de partie at Whittlebury Hall, but still hailed his success as a huge surprise.

He said: “I’ve never felt a feeling like this. It’s great. I owe it all to the college and my tutors, who have been fantastic.”

Guests at the college awards event were also told about successes students had achieved in national competitions, including having culinary creations on show at the NEC in Birmingham, and winning a haul of top medals at the prestigious Wessex Salon Culinaire.

Another winner on the night who has overcome big challenges in his life was Charlie Lambrianou, aged 18, from Little Tingewick, who was awarded the Paris House Work Based Learning Student of the Year title.

Despite huge personal upheavals, he managed to attend college and work incredibly hard to pass his exams – even in the middle of having to arrange his mother’s funeral.