Maisie Thomson left Derwen College in 2019. During her three years at Derwen she embraced college life working in Retail and Creative Arts throwing threw herself enthusiastically into extra-curricular activities at the specialist residential college.
Whilst at Derwen College, Maisie completed her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a challenge that takes a great deal of hard work and commitment, including two three-night camping and walking expeditions in Snowdonia, and five days canoeing, sailing and walking at an activity centre on the shores of Lake Coniston.
Maisie also represented Derwen College at sporting events; competing in the National Learner Disability tennis competition in Nottingham and as a valued member of the female football team.
Maisie was a member of sign, song and dance group DOT (Derwen on Tour). She was extremely dedicated to her role in DOT and actively participated in all rehearsals. She was involved in performances at Oswestry and Llanfyllin Christmas light switch on, Derwen Graduation, Hope House Christmas party and Hope House charity event. In addition, Maisie undertook the lead support role in Aladdin as Princess Jasmin. She was committed to her role and independently used her spare time to rehearse her part with her peers.
Maisie was part of the Student Union Board as Deputy Representative for Creative Arts, and was always keen to voice her ideas and opinions and to represent the students in her department.
In 2018, she was nominated for The High Sheriff of Shropshire’s Outstanding Young Citizenship Award for her commitment to Derwen College and the community.
She was commended by the college and High Sheriff.
“Maisie is great at working as part of a team but is also driven to work independently in her own time – an excellent ‘all-rounder’ who always gives her all, with a smile on her face.”
During her time at Derwen College, Maisie undertook work skills and functional skills qualifications: Pearson BTEC Certificate in Vocational Studies at Level 1
Pearson Edexcel Functional Skills in English at Entry 3
Pearson Edexcel Functional Skills in Mathematics at Entry 3
and completed Employability Skills modules.
Maisie completed work placements at college and in the community. As well as experience with DOT, she visited schools and nurseries as part of DC NarraTours – a group of students who read and perform stories in the community.
She created artwork to be sold at the summer art exhibition and in Derwen College’s Garden Centre Shop and at the College’s online ‘Folksy’ shop including mediums such as enamelling, ceramics, screen printing and textiles.
Maisie undertook regular external work placements at the local library and supermarket.
When asked to the pick the highlights of her time at Derwen Maisie says there were many things that she enjoyed.
“In my first two years, customer service and till work. Working in the supermarket, helping people with their shopping. In my third year, I loved doing all the performing arts: the shows, DOT, DC NarraTours. I also was on the Student Union Board. I did Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s which was my proudest moment. I did a tennis tournament in Nottingham. I won first prize! I was nominated for the High Sheriff Citizenship Award and my Dad and Grandma came to the ceremony.”
She acknowledges there were challenges that she was supported to work through.
“Making friends took me a bit of time to start with but by my last year doing Performing Arts, I had lots. Eating healthily, I still need to keep working on.”
She says she has grown up through her work, independent living skills, enrichment activities.
“I became more responsible and got more independent – I worked on my independent travel skills – walking, bus and going out at night. I didn’t get my train award but that’s what I need to work on now.”
Maisie’s parents say they have seen a big change in her over the past three years.
“She has far greater independence, especially in travelling, and good understanding about the retail business and customer service. Also Maisie was able to make her own social life – not dependent on us. This was very important, and one friendship led us to her next course of study at Chickenshed.”
Since graduating from Derwen College, Maisie is continuing her education, studying a BTEC in Performing Arts at inclusive theatre company Chickenshed, in London. The independence skills that she has learnt and put into practice at Derwen, along with her growing confidence and self-reliance, have enabled her to move out of home into a shared supported living flat with a friend – another former Derwen College student. She moved into supported living in St Albans, Hertfordshire just six weeks after leaving Derwen, the same time as starting her new course.