On 21 November, I went to Brighton Town Hall to see Amanda Scales, (Learning and Work Institute learning ambassador and 2012 Outstanding Individual Award winner for the South-East region), receive her BEM from the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex.
The British Empire Medal was given for ‘services to adult learning’ and the citation highlighted how Amanda had not only improved her own skills as a mature student, but then gone on to encourage so many others to recognise that it’s never too late to learn and gain qualifications, and to highlight the difference it can make.
Twelve years ago, in her 40s, a single parent with no qualifications and 4 children, Amanda decided to apply for a women’s access course, to ‘use my brain and see how far I can get’. Following this she got a place at university, got a degree in contemporary history then an adult teaching certificate.
This led on to her finding her voice in supporting others to get hooked on learning, and subsequently, as a Learning Ambassador, she attended Parliamentary events, met ministers, and was introduced to HRH The Princess Royal.
At the House of Commons one evening she said she would really like to give the Minister a piece of her mind about adult skills -with a bit of deft footwork we got her in front of the then Minister for Skills, and she held his attention for ten minutes.
She has been heavily involved in the First World War commemorations on the south coast, developing resources for families around the Second World War, and currently, working with her union, the GMB, on the impact of the menopause on workers in the workplace.
To see her presented with her medal were her two sons, a niece and friend, and her 91-year-old auntie; she appeared to know just about everyone including the High Sheriff, Lady Mayor, leaders of the councils! This sums up Amanda – highly personable, very vocal, works hard to get involved in things and most importantly to get others involved; her passion is the difference that learning can make, and she will get to know anyone to further that end.”
Carol Taylor, Learning and Work Institute Associate and former Deputy Chief Executive