Patron's Award

Matthew Turner

2021 National Winner

Matthew has autism, which has unfortunately held him back in his education and employment. Having reached his early thirties, Matthew decided to take his first step back into learning, pursuing his passion for travel and tourism. Matthew applied for college and has progressed on to further learning and have gained confidence look for a job within the Travel and Tourism industry. 

Throughout my time in education and into my early career, autism has held me back. I have always had a passion for travel and tourism, and I took the leap of faith and decided to apply for college.

I knew I had to embrace learning with open arms, and I have grown in confidence and improved my health and wellbeing enormously. Despite scepticism from those around me, I progressed from level 1 to level 3 achieving exceptional marks in all the assessments. I have volunteered in the college coffee bar and restaurant and also I volunteered within the autism community to support those in similar situations to myself.

I was struggling to find work due to my learning difficulty and lack of qualifications and I was becoming increasingly frustrated as I knew I was capable, and I wanted to have the same opportunities as those without a learning difficulty. Taking this step back into education as an adult has opened so many doors for me and helped me to transform my life. It has improved my confidence and I am able to communicate and even lead in group situations. My learning has made me more social, and I am now a prominent figure both at college and within my autism group.

I am looking forward to pursuing my career in the travel industry or perhaps go on to university. I feel ready to take on any challenge now.

Sarah O’Connell, lecturer in travel, hospitality, aviation and events at Bradford College, said: ‘Matthew is an outstanding inspiration to all and achieved so much along his journey to prove to all those who did not give him a chance that he is more than capable. He never lets anything stop him.