INSPIRATIONAL young people from the Black Country who have turned their lives around have been celebrated at an award ceremony in Dudley.

Youngsters who have battled against the odds to achieve qualifications to take their first step on the career ladder were rewarded for their hard work at a special event at the Quality Hotel.

Over 150 people attended the event held by Skills Training UK, a national independent training provider, which offer vocational BTEC courses for 16 to 18-year-olds, and work-based traineeship programmes for 16 to 24-year-olds.

Chelsea Lovekin, a 18-year-old student from Dudley, took home the Outstanding Achievement Award.

In emotional scenes the teen was too tearful to talk but award presenter Denise Ann Jones praised her 'inspirational' transformation.

She said: "Chelsea had been told she wouldn’t amount to anything before joining us. She was crying and shaking on her first day but in just five weeks she has completed qualifications in Customer Service and a 50-hour work placement where she won an employee award. Huge congratulations to Chelsea for all she has achieved so far.”

The ceremony also provided a platform for Dudley students Reuben Edwards and Le’andre Bell to showcase their singing talents, with Reuben now writing a rap about how his experience at Skills Training UK has turned around his life.

Stephen Crawley, Chief Operating Officer at Skills Training UK, said: “It was fantastic to see so many 16-24-year olds from the West Midlands receive the recognition they deserve for making huge progress in their lives and for taking their first step on the career ladder.

“Our vision is to invest in the workforce of the West Midlands and improve education and skills within the local economy. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to help young people – whatever their educational experience or socio-economic background – to gain valuable experience in fast-developing sectors and get their career off to the best possible start.

“Thanks to everyone who attended our Celebration of Success event, from our fantastic learners to our vital employer and referral partners.”