Students' determination proved to be food for thought as their efforts gained them official recognition from their college.
Catering student Harold Cutting and nutritionist Sophie Kirk shared the honours taking the top accolade at the annual Darlington College awards ceremony.
The joint Students of the Year received high praise from college staff for their commitment to their studies, attitude to learning and achievements, often against a background of adversity.
Guests heard that Harold, a Level 3 professional catering student, secured a position at the five star Rockliffe Hall Hotel, where he now works in the brasserie.
In September he will go to the Edge Hotel School, at the University of Essex, to study a foundation degree in Hotel Management and hopes one day to own his own restaurant or work at the Savoy in London.
Harold, 18, of Darlington, said: “I’m so surprised to share this wonderful honour with Sophie but it is lovely to be recognised in this way.”
Former college sports student Sophie is now studying a BSc degree in sports and exercise science at Hull University with a view to becoming a nutritionist.
The 20-year-old, of Northallerton, achieved her success despite living with dyspraxia, a condition that affects motor skills, emotions and can lead to learning difficulties.
“I received such a lot of support from my tutors at Darlington College which I am sure helped me achieve three distinctions and a distinction with a star,” she said.
“I am really enjoying university life and hope one day to work as a nutritionist either in private practice or for the NHS.”
Darlington College principal Kate Roe said: “This is my favourite night of the year where we come together to celebrate the amazing achievements of our fantastic students. We are so proud of them and they should all be extremely proud of themselves.”
Chairman of Darlington College Board Pat Howarth said: “It is a privilege to share students’ many achievements which are down to their hard work, with the support of very capable tutors and their families.”
Compered by English tutor Jackson Todd, awards were presented to students in subject areas including media studies, business administration, catering, sport, art, media, computing, child and healthcare, access to social science, bricklaying, joinery, electrical installation, engineering, motor vehicle repair, English, maths, hairdressing, beauty therapy, science, sport, teacher training, travel and tourism, and uniformed public services.
Mr Todd said: “The core values of this college include commitment, ambition, respect and excellence and all of the students here tonight have displayed all of these qualities.”
For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk.