The managing director of the acclaimed Melton Learning Hub has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list announced yesterday.
David Cowell was appointed a Member of the British Empire for his services to vocational education after almost 10 years of providing support and qualifications to hard-to-reach young people who struggle within mainstream education.
David (33) was responsible for setting up the Burton Road site back in 2005 which has proved a huge success in providing vocational qualifications for disengaged youngsters, including those excluded from mainstream schooling in Melton and the surrounding areas.
He said: “I’m very honoured to receive this award. I’ve dedicated a lot of time over the last 10 years to young people and I’m one of the lucky people who enjoys every minute of a very rewarding job.
“I would never have expected to have been recognised in such a way but it’s humbling to know that my hard work and dedication is appreciated and held in such regard.
“It was quite surreal to receive the letter from the Cabinet Office and it has been very hard to keep this quiet from family, friends and colleagues for the past couple of months. I’m glad I can now announce it and have an extra special new year’s celebration.”
David’s MBE caps off a hugely eventful year for the hub - including a prestigious visit from Princess Anne in May.
After completing a masters degree in applied criminology from the University of Leicester and then joining Leicestershire Constabulary as a community initiatives co-ordinator with Melton police, David was responsible for sourcing funding for a project aiming to reduce anti-social behaviour and truancy and increase attainment levels in Melton.
He was successful, in 2004, in securing £218,000 of funding from the Leicestershire Economic Business Partnership and saw the Melton Learning Hub open as a faculty of King Edward VII School on June 23, 2005.
In its infancy, David, supported by tutor Debbie Bindloss, helped tutor six learners to gain a total of 11 life skill qualifications.
Just one of the measures of its success, over the last decade, is the around 1,780 qualifications awarded to young people during that time in a variety of practical subjects.
There have been many other developments over the past 10 years, most notably when the learning hub became a social enterprise with charitable status in October 2010.
Two further alternative learning/vocational centres, The Bungalow in Birstall and The Barkstone Vocational Centre at Belvoir High School have followed.
David paid tribute to the work of all involved at the hub. He said: “I would particularly like to thank the staff and directors who have played an equally important role in the outstanding success of the venture.”
David was also heavily involved in the setting up of The Venue in Melton which opened in July. The youth hub, based at Phoenix House on Nottingham Road, provides activities, entertainment and a safe space for young people in Melton.
He will now be invited to an investiture in the first half of 2016 to officially receive his MBE from a member of the royal family.
Melton Council’s youth champion and deputy leader Pam Posnett was among those to congratulate David on his MBE.
Mrs Posnett, who is also a Leicestershire County Council Cabinet member who works with the designated lead member for children and young people, said: “The Melton Learning Hub is now a recognised centre of excellence. I’m absolutely delighted David has been recognised for the excellent work he has done for this community. It is well-deserved.”
As from tomorrow David is relinquishing his role as managing director of Melton Learning Hub but he will still have a key strategic role with the hub.
David is moving to ALP Schools (Alternative Learning Project) where he will deliver vocational education to young people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
He said: “I look forward to a new challenge of working with young people with more challenging special educational needs for whom delivering vocational qualifications will be equally as rewarding.”
Sarah Cox, current operations manager at Melton Learning Hub, will be taking over as MD.