Those honoured at the House of Commons ceremony included celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who said his hotel and catering diploma at Westminster Kingsway College had given him confidence in his intelligence and abilities after a rocky start in school. "It helped to make me realise that I wasn't thick," he said.
Five other high-achieving FE students received the Gold Award accolade, sponsored by the Association of Colleges. They included disability rights campaigner Bert Massie, BBC Breakfast TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, and Andrea Ashworth, author of "Once in a House on Fire". Also honoured were "Spooks" TV actor David Oyelowo and Brian Fleet, senior vice-president of Airbus UK.