STUDENTS have been urged to chase their dreams as the head of one of the country’s largest local authorities returned to inspire pupils at his former school.

Chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan was guest of honour at Northallerton College’s annual celebration of achievement, which rewards pupils who have excelled through hard work and commitment to their studies and within the community.

Mr Riordan, who graduated from Oxford University after leaving Northallerton College, is now in charge of 13,000 members of staff at the second largest metropolitan council outside of London and was voted the second most powerful man in Yorkshire by Insider magazine.

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“I wasn’t a particularly memorable pupil during my time at college,” said Mr Riordan.

“I was never a prefect and I never won a prize but I made a great group of friends who I am still friends with today.

“Teachers may sometimes make you do lots of hard work but they can also teach you things that will change your life. One of my teachers spotted something in me and helped me get to Oxford which changed my life.”

Speaking to hundreds of pupils and parents at the event at Hambleton Forum, Northallerton, Mr Riordan offered some words of wisdom to students receiving awards.

“Life is a challenge and like many young people I was insecure as a teenager,” he said.

“If I could go back and talk to my 16-year-old self I would say don’t lose touch with your friends, always value friendship and give your parents a break. Do things you enjoy, never forget your roots, but go out and see the world. Money and exams are important but not the be all and end all. Be kind, think about other people, be confident, be yourself and be positive because anything is possible and you can achieve anything.”

The annual event, hosted by student council members Jack Cornforth, Georgina Watkiss and Adam Wilson, recognised achievements in a wide range of areas, from academia and music to drama and sport.

Awards were also handed out for attitude and contribution to the student council, as well as for sporting commitment and enthusiasm, by the heads of the Northallerton and Catterick Federation including executive principal Mick Hill, Northallerton College associate principal Steven Merifield, associate principal of Risedale Sports and Community College John Kelly and co-head teachers of The Allertonshire School Chris Byrne and Mike Holmes, as well as former Northallerton College pupil and internationally renowned mountaineer Alan Hinkes.

Special awards, in memory of former students, were presented by the parents of former sixth form pupil Libby Dawes, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2007, the mother and father of Lance Corporal Ben Hyde, one of six Royal Military Policemen killed in June 2003 in Southern Iraq.

Entertainment throughout the evening was provided by brothers Matthew and Thomas Rhodes, who played guitar and sang their own composition Time Machine, the Northallerton College Choir with a Christmas medley and the drama group, who gave a sneak performance of the college’s forthcoming production of Macbeth.

Summing up the evening the new chair of governors of the Northallerton and Catterick Federation, Rob Barker, said: “It is humbling to be in the presence of such worthy award winners this evening.

“This is Northallerton College’s eighth consecutive celebration evening and a real testament to the achievements of its students and the staff who make it happen.”

Results Best Key Stage 3 assessments : Ella Almond, Benedict Bell, Amy Donlon, Joshua Form, Ryan Geach, Matthew Halligan, Ross Powell, Kate Stirling Services to School, Area and County Music: Bethany Atkinson, Catherine Bailey, Helen Bailey, Alexander Bell, Kiah Berry. Jack Brent, Josie Crocker, Kate Darwin, Fay Donaldson, Owen Finn, Sophie Gill, Abbie Grange, Joshua Henry, Amy Knowles, Amy Lane, Hannah Lindup, Christopher Loader, James Martin, Jake Piper, Matthew Rhodes, Thomas Rhodes, Rebecca Roberts, Aaron Turner, James Walters, Georgina Watkiss Outstanding attitude to learning throughout Year 10: Catherine Bailey, Helen Bailey, Rebecca Bond, Alan Brooks, Oliver Brown, Lewis Byrom, Rachael Chapman, Jack Constantine, Katie Coton, Daniel Craggs, Josie Crocker, Saffron Crowther, Kate Darwin, William Darwin, Maya Dorling, Lois Farndale, Chloe Forster, Gemma Gardner, Alicia Hicks, Kiesha Hoggart, Charlotte Jobling, James Juden, Michael Kirby, Amy Long, James Martin, Amileigh Monk, Ellen Palmer, Jake Piper, Shona Powell, Amy Proudlock, Lauren Salt, Katherine Saunders, Ellie Smith, Francesca Smith, Georgina Smith, Phoebe Stainthorpe, Jade Stockdale, Sophie Trueman, Aaron Turner, Annie Walker, Simon West, Jessica Whaley, Grace White, Jordan Wilbor Contribution to Student Council: Rioghnach Dewhirst, Adam Donlon, Beth Keen, Fiona Metcalf, Emily Miller, Katie Oliver, Holly Peckover, Harry Prince, Laura Matthews, Katrina Richardson, Jessica Shuker Outstanding achievement at GCSE level: Louise Chapman, Michael Darlington, Jakob Fitter, Liam Geach, Alexandra Logan, Ben Stuart, Thomas Walters, Eleanor Walton Rotary Club Award for highest achievement at GCSE level: Daniel Cutler, Rhiannon Hinton, James Walters, Catherine Watson, Matthew Webb Outstanding achievement at AS level: Jack Brown, Laura Matthews, Katrina Richardson Rotary Club of Northallerton Mowbray Award for highest achievement at AS level: Quentin Cook Outstanding achievement at A2 level: Amy Clarkson, Ashley Crewdson, Caroline Haworth, Michael Munn, Tom Rodgers, Sam Zwolinski Teesside University Award for highest achievement at A2 level: Hannah Parrott Faculty Awards: Libby Dawes Award (Outstanding Commitment to Health & Social Care): Paige Ladlow Science: Bethany Dennis, Rhiannon Hinton, Hannah Parrott, Anna Watkinson, Matthew Webb, Phillip Woods, Sam Zwolinski Humanities: Daniel Cutler, Zachary Murfitt (business studies), Rachel Jaques (geography), Anna Morris (history), Dominique Triggs, (sociology), Christopher Loader (modern foreign languages) Maths: Liam Geach, Caroline Haworth, Rhiannon Hinton, Ben Stuart, Megan Tonks, Matthew Webb, Phillip Woods, Sam Zwolinski Expressive Arts: Amelia-Jane Allerton (PE), Caitlin Bell (dance), Rachael Chapman (PE), Eleanor Coleman (drama), Ella Ford (photography), Hannah Kirk (PE), Christopher Holmes (drama), Hannah Lindup (music), Christopher Loader (music), Alexandra Logan (drama), Zachary Murfitt (drama), Ollie Nixon (art), Ellie Readman (PE), Thomas Rhodes (music). Mille Thurman, Henry Vallance (photography), Georgina Watkiss (PE), Catherine Watson (music), Emma Wilson (art) SSAFA Forces Help for Musical Excellence: Matthew Rhodes Ben Hyde Sports Award (sporting commitment and enthusiasm): Jasmine Pearson, George McNaught (pre 16), Sarah Lacy, Jack Cornforth (post 16) David Dick Award for Sporting Achievement: Jess Shuker Technology: Daniel Cutler (graphics), Kristina Hagyard (textiles), Andrew Rawling Award (Outstanding commitment to Design & Technology): Ashley Crewdson Alan Hinkes Award for Endeavour: Ena Westoe English: Sally Brooker, Tom Rodgers Outstanding achievement in English: Rachel Brown The John Dennis Award: Maisy Bradbury and James Walters The Cuthbert Cross: Amy Clarkson and Christopher Loader