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Carmarthenshire animal carer wins Inspire! Award for her determination to turn her life around

AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group is delighted to be supporting the Inspire! Adult Learners’ Awards in Wales by sponsoring the ‘Young Adult Learner Award.’  And what an amazing winner Harley is.

Read her inspirational  story

A young woman from Carmarthenshire, praised by her lecturer for turning her life around through dedication and hard work, has won a major award.

Harley Clements, 22, was bullied throughout primary school. Looking for a fresh start, she moved to a different secondary school, only to fall in with the wrong crowd. Harley said: “School was difficult for me. I was so concerned about impressing my new friends to avoid being bullied again that I got myself into a lot of trouble. The things we were doing became a lot worse and resulted in clashes with the police. I realised I needed to distance myself from their company. By the time I had the courage to walk away, I had already sat my GCSEs and wanted to pass the compulsory subjects. It wasn’t until I started college that I eventually started to enjoy education.” 

Sadly, Harley lost her granddad around that time, but said the experience made her more determined and focused to change her path.
Celebrating success. Fast forward to now, and Harley has been awarded the ‘Young Adult Learner’ Inspire! Award for her commitment and determination to return to education and kickstart her career.

Harley continued: “Seeing my granddad in hospital and watching people care for him made me realise how rewarding a job in nursing could be. At college I studied public services, and for a while I thought I wanted to study adult nursing. But COVID-19 was the turning point for me. We always had pets growing up, but during the pandemic I cared for them a lot more. I found being around them relaxing and decided I wanted to combine my interest in nursing with my love for animals.”
This change in mindset, combined with overcoming her childhood challenges, saw Harley starting to enjoy education for the first time. She quickly excelled and found her feet as a star pupil.

Harley is one of 10 winners to be recognised at the 2023 Inspire! Awards. Co-ordinated by the Learning and Work Institute with support from the Welsh Government, the Inspire! Awards recognise those who have demonstrated a commitment to never stop learning. Each Inspire! winner demonstrates how learning can offer second chances, help create new career opportunities, build confidence, and help communities to become vibrant and successful. 

Harley continued: “The freedom of college really suited me, and I enjoyed the choice of subjects. I was able to go home during my free periods which meant I didn’t have to hang around with people that I didn’t want to. Instead, I could go home to my parents, brother and sister who all supported me and have inspired me to push forward.”

Having graduated from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) with an Animal Care and Welfare Degree, Harley has recently started a new job working in animal care the industry.

“Once I had a career in mind, I knew it wasn’t too late to change my future. I earned a triple distinction at college which gave me the UCAS credits I needed to go to university and build a future I have always dreamed of,” she said. “Being bullied from a young age made me hate school. But despite only just passing compulsory education, I have achieved outstanding results in my adult life and have been able to set myself up for a successful career. I’d say the key to success is being patient and knowing you won’t always get it right the first time around. I wish I had never listened to the people who told me I couldn’t do it. Looking forward, I plan to continue progressing through the levels of education and gaining certifications in the veterinary profession.”

Steph Rees is a Lead Lecturer at Coleg Sir Gar and was Harley’s personal tutor during her time at UWTSD. She said: “I look at Harley in complete admiration. Her journey to success hasn’t been easy but she’s proved to herself and others that hard work and determination pays off. Harley confided in me about her early learning years and since then, she has been open and adaptive to change and advice. She continually produced distinction-level work at university and has successfully found employment because of her commitment. This has been a long and emotional journey for Harley, but without a doubt, she is a dependable and dedicated young woman who will go on to achieve amazing things.”

2023 Inspire! Awards 

The Inspire! Awards took place on September 14th and celebrate the achievements of exceptional individuals, community projects and organisations. For adults in Wales keen to start their learning journey, in-person taster courses and online sessions will run throughout September and during Adult Learners’ Week (18th – 24th September), with advice and information available locally to inspire people to take up learning as a way of increasing their employability.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Congratulations to this year’s Inspire! Award winners and nominees. It’s incredible to see so many individuals of different ages, from varied backgrounds, and with a range of abilities overcoming personal challenges and becoming role models for us all.  “The Inspire! Awards are a fantastic platform to showcase learners who have gone above and beyond to turn their lives around and succeed in their careers. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, this year’s winners have shown how learning can help pave the way to personal and professional success.

Joshua Miles, Director for Wales at Learning and Work Institute, said: "The Inspire! Awards serve as a reminder of how important it is to never stop learning. We live in a world that's changing rapidly. Between the impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the emergence of new technologies, nothing stays still for long. Learning helps us adapt to this change and ultimately benefit from it. If we keep learning and improving our skills throughout our lives, we can continue to increase our job prospects and are more likely to secure a promotion or be able to change careers. We also know that learning is good for our self-esteem and mental health, making us feel more linked to our community. Our Inspire! Award winners are a testament to how learning throughout our lives can help us deal with life's challenges. As we celebrate our winners, we hope that their stories can inspire more people across Wales to take part in courses throughout Adult Learners’ Week.”

Kevern Kerswell, Group CEO at AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group added “AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group is delighted to be supporting the Inspire! Adult Learners’ Awards in Wales by sponsoring the ‘Young Adult Learner Award.’  The Inspire! Awards celebrate everything that is fantastic about adult learning in Wales, a country where adults enjoy a wide range of opportunities to thrive and gain new skills.  It is important to remember that while we are celebrating exceptional learners we are also championing the incredible providers across Wales who make all of this possible.  AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group is fiercely proud of the part we play through our qualifications and services which help learners take the next step in their lives and empower futures.  Congratulations to every nominee and winner, and our thanks to all the providers and stakeholders who work so hard to create these opportunities.”

Adult Learners’ Week in Wales

To find out what’s going on during Adult Learners’ Week, and for personalised advice on your own learning options and support available, get in touch with Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or search

Welsh translation available supplied by Learning and Work / Sefydliad Dysgu a Gwaith

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