Newry man Matthew Cunningham awarded Essential Skills Learner of the year

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Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Local man Matthew Cunningham has been awarded County Down 2015 Essential Skills Learner of the year award at the annual Essential Skills Awards.
Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, Co Down Winner, Matthew Cunningham and Compere Sarah Travers

Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, Co Down Winner, Matthew Cunningham and Compere Sarah Travers

Matthew Cunningham from Newry lifted the title at the Essential Skills ceremony which took place at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast. Matthew suffered a serious brain injury in 2009, which impacted significantly on his life. However this did not hold him back, and through determination and focus Mathew has overcome a number of barriers and progressed in his Literacy from an Entry Level 2 to a Level 1 qualification. Matthew has made great progress in rebuilding his life and is looking to the future after completing a Level 2 Gym instructor course. Encouraging learners to grasp the opportunities associated with an Essential Skills qualification, Matthew said, “During my recovery I had a lot of spare time and needed a challenge. “I was advised to return to work to stimulate my brain and aid my recovery. Due to my lapse in education, I needed to gain qualifications to make me employable. “I have enjoyed the interaction with other students and have now progressed to Level 2 Essential Skills Literacy. I have improved my confidence and feel now I can interact easily with other,” he added. Congratulating all the winners Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said, “It is a great pleasure to attend the Essential Skills awards ceremony each year, where I get to share in the success of today’s winners who serve as an inspiration to anyone wishing to improve their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.” This is the eighth year of the Essential Skills Awards which are designed to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement in literacy, numeracy and ICT. Visit or by calling 0300 200 7876 for further information on free Essential Skills courses.
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