CONELs top Furniture Design student Dawn Painter was one of 100 students, chosen out of 750,000 candidates, to be awarded with a City & Guilds Medal of Excellence.

The accolade was presented to Dawn at St Jamess Palace by City & Guilds President HRH Prince Philip after she was selected as the most outstanding achiever in the London and South East region.

She was nominated by her lecturer, Peter Dines, who said Dawn had created pieces far beyond what was expected of her.

Returning the compliment, Dawn, who lives in Archway, said Peter was the force behind her award. Hes the most inspirational tutor. Ive been in education most of my life but Peter is top class.

He has such a passion for what he does. He really is brilliant and it was through him that my talents were brought out. I think hes a superstar!

At the ceremony, Dawn was also approached to become a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Making a very rare honour. Theres only a handful of them in the country and they are some of the top furniture designers and makers. Its such a privilege.

Dawn, 29, started out studying Graphic Design, before moving onto a Fine Art degree. I hated doing the art degree and decided to become a builder something totally opposite to that.

Then I studied carpentry before coming to the college two years ago to do Furniture Design.

I think all my skills pooled into one and I found something I really have a passion for. I really love it and now my course has finished, I have started teaching in the same department at CONEL.

They asked me to help out and I ended up writing one of the courses. Dawn plans to come back to CONEL to teach this September but shes also very much in demand taking commissions for private furniture making.

Of her visit to the Palace, Dawn said: It was quite wonderful. We met Prince Philip in the Throne Room. I was told to stand still and taught how to bow. He did say well done to me. It was all a bit of a blur actually I was so in awe!

Each year City & Guilds, the UKs leading vocational awarding body, awards Medals for Excellence to around 100 candidates from the 750,000 people throughout the world taking its qualifications.

These top achievers have shown outstanding performance as a lecturer or student. One is then picked from each region and nation in the UK to be congratulated by City & Guilds' President HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

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