A MILESTONE in Huntingdonshire Regional College’s 40 year history was marked with the official unveiling of its new landmark building on Thursday.

The day also had special significance for one former student who fought against the odds to pursue her education and is now forging a career thanks to the staff at the college.

Anna Martin, 24 of Wistock Court, Eaton Socon was devastated when her father died in a fire while she was at Ernulf Academy, formerly Ernulf School.

She spiralled into a depression. Unable to concentrate she came out of school with only two GCSEs and, she thought, all chances of further education out of the window.

But after some pressure from her mother, Anna decided to speak to someone at the college about her situation. They were able to offer her BTEC course in business.

Anna was named learner of the year in 2005 and awarded an outstanding achievement for her work on the course. She undertook a degree at Anglia Ruskin University and now works at a local insurance company. She hopes to eventually pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.

Anna was picked along with current students Matt Clifton, 18 and Liam Heath, 17 to cut the ribbon for the college’s £3million foyer and classrooms.

Anna said: “The relationship we have with the tutors here is brilliant. They knew I was capable, if I was given a chance. There are less students than at Cambridge Regional College or Bedford, so they have got more time.

“The main thing they care about are the students and they try to focus on the future rather than the past.”

Liam said: “Before I came here I had no confidence. I recently got a job with John Lewis and the college has helped me get that job.”

Over 100 dignitaries and employers attended the opening ceremony which is the first phase in a complete refurbishment of the site. One person unable to attend was former student and chairman of the Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, John Bridge, who sent a special message of support.

Visitors were shown around the new building which includes a foyer with double-height atrium, admissions office, interview room and classrooms equipped with interactive white boards and computer network points.

Parking has also been improved outside the front of the building. Plans are to begin refurbishment of the college’s music technology facilities imminently to respond to rising interest in the course.

Principal Susanne Stent said: “The college success rates have improved year on year, and this represents us externally, as we deserve to be, as the community deserves to be.”

Chairman of the college’s governors Jackie Jenkins said: “You walk around the college and for the last couple of weeks, there has been a real buzz.

“The next phase of the work is electrics and the roof and we are doing a lot internally. The classrooms are gradually getting colour-coordinated and new lighting - anything to make the learner experience better.”