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Students Helen and Lizzie wearing purple Premier Inn tops and with medals hug each other in the Hotel 751 voyer.
Helen and Lizzie returned to work at the College’s Hotel 751 with medals galore.
Derwen College students Helen and Lizzie - wearing purple Premier Inn polo shirts - sit behind the Check In desk in the College's Premier Inn styled Hotel 751.
Helen and Lizzie check back into work after their swimming successes.

Best friends Helen and Lizzie have checked back into work at our mini hotel, Hotel 751, following a hugely successful international swimming competition.

Both are outstanding Hospitality and Food students and talented swimming champions.

Helen and Lizzie, who represent Great Britain in the Down Syndrome Swimming team, returned recently from the 2023 Virtus Global Games, in Vichy, France, adorned with a grand total of eight medals between them. Helen won Gold in the 400-metre freestyle, along with four silvers and a bronze. Lizzie won two silvers as part of the female and mixed relay teams, which Helen was also part of.

Whilst at College, Helen and Lizzie train for swimming at the college’s own pool and also with Oswestry Otters as part of their timetable programme. Outside of term-time, Lizzie trains at Alton & District Swimming Club and Helen trains at Colchester Swimming Club.

Both were extremely happy with their recent successes.

Lizzie said: “It felt amazing, my mum was crying.”

Helen said: “My mum was cheering me on a lot. I was so happy to do so well.”

They have travelled the world with their swimming competitions, visiting countries including Canada, Sardinia, Italy and Portugal. Their next big competition is in Italy in September.

DSS-GB team manager, Neil Lacey commended Derwen College students’ successes. He said:

“Helen and Lizzie had a fantastic Virtus Global Games – they took on the event with the determination and focus we have come to expect from them as Great Britain swimmers with excellent results and medals. Helen, Lizzie, and also Derwen students Dylan Hughes and Ciara McKenna, have been with The Down Syndrome Swimming GB squad since a young age and it is a pleasure and gives us great pride to watch them in and out of the water becoming great swimmers and impressive young adults.”

As Hospitality students, Helen and Lizzie enjoy weekly work placements at the College’s three-bedroom Hotel 751, which was launched with the support of Premier Inn. They both work in the Reception and also in housekeeping in the bedrooms.

Helen says: “I really like working in the bathroom best, making it all clean and sparkly.”

23 students are in paid employment at Premier Inn

Derwen College is proud to have a strong partnership with Whitbread-owned Premier Inn. Students go on to work placements at Premier Inn Hotels around the country. In total, 23 Derwen students have progressed to paid employment at the hotel.

As part of the College’s Hospitality & Food programme, Helen and Lizzie also work in the College’s Walled Garden Café and The Orangery Restaurant. Though both students love their swimming and see it as an important part of life, they are looking to working in hospitality or housekeeping when they leave College.

Helen: “I would like to work in a café serving people food and drinks.”

Lizzie “I’d like to live with my boyfriend, get two dogs, and have a job as a waitress in a restaurant.”

Congratulations to them both for all the hard work, commitment and positive attitude in everything they do.

Helen, wearing red t-shirt and shorts and flipflps, holding the Virtus Global Games masoct and wearing her Gold medal, cheers with her arms in the air.
Helen won two individual and four relay medals including a Gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Lizzie, wearing red t-shirt and shorts and sat on a Team GB red, white and blue towel, relaxes between races.
Lizzie won two medals for 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley.

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