Meet our Assessors

» Alan Ashpole (Engineering)

Name: Alan Ashpole
Department: Engineering

Alan is an Assessor at the College’s Brunel Road campus. After many years working as a Foreman in a commercial vehicle workshop, Alan had built up the formal training and industry experience to supervise teams, but felt he wanted to give something back to the industry.

He says: “I wanted to help young people in an engineering apprentice role, as I was helped by mentors and lecturers in the past. I enjoy seeing young people progress with qualifications and within the company they work for.”

Alan trained at the College to obtain his Cert Ed and Internal Verifier (IV) qualifications, enabling him to teach and later assess. “My favourite parts of the job are working closely with local employers, obtaining repeat business for the college, and issuing certificates to learners in their place of employment.”

Alan has found that most of his learners are really keen to progress and believes that his ability to communicate at different levels and help motivate them if they need it, have been the key strengths he has brought to the role of Assessor. 

He says: “The benefit for employers to take on apprentices is to build the skills capacity within their businesses.”

» Bev Holloway (Business)

Name: Bev Holloway
Department: Business

After training staff in a previous job role at Milton Keynes Hospital, Bev wanted to develop her skills further. 20 years in the training and education industry, including working with various companies and being promoted into management roles, have given her the qualifications, skills and experience to deliver a range of qualifications in her role today.

I was HSDU Supervisor at the hospital for eight years, at the end of which I could assess and deliver Customer Service, Management, Warehousing and Logistics, and Admin qualifications,” explains Bev. “I also have experience and qualifications to deliver Advice and Guidance, Supply Chain, TAQA - Assessing and Internal Quality Assurance and Training and Development.” Bev’s customer service skills, flexibility and creativity enable her to excel in this role as Training Coordinator.

Bev enjoys meeting new people and companies, and helping learners achieve a variety of skills and qualifications, a highlight of which was recently getting some of her learners through to the finals at the national and local apprenticeship awards, one of whom had autism.

The more employers invest into apprentices the more skilled that they will become, and this could lead to progression within their company.  For example, some of our previous apprentices have now become managers and mentors for other apprentices within companies,” says Bev.

Bev is now working as the Apprenticeship Course Manager at Bedford College, this role ensures courses are run correctly, learners are timely and Bev ensures that the College continues to work to a high standard. “I liaise and manage all EQA visits for a variety of awarding bodies, ensuring staff are prepared and visits are managed in a professional manner.”

Alongside her role as Course Manager, Bev has also been selected for and is completing training for the Customer Service IEPA and Business Administrator IEPA. “This training will ensure we have best practice in our area.

» Dawn Fitt (Engineering)

Name: Dawn Fitt
Department: Engineering

Dawn FittDawn began her career as an Electronics & Electrical Engineering Technician apprentice, before gaining valuable industrial experience, traveling the world to commission aero, marine and automotive engine test beds.

Her work in the field led her to become the recipient of The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award and she has since spent her working life passionately promoting women in engineering. Dawn is hugely influential in industry and has given countless talks and presentations at Big Bang Fairs and STEM Festivals, as well as writing for The Independent.

Dawn is a member, past president and careers officer for WES, and a member of the IET.

I joined the Women’s Engineering Society... to meet and socialise with likeminded women. WES has enabled me to engage with some interesting projects and promotions, one being Airside.

Being professionally registered at IEng with EC UK through the IET, Dawn can encourage employers and their apprentices to extend beyond the criteria of the apprenticeship to become EngTech ready.

I chose to become a Training Coordinator because the role consolidates all the STEM enhancement and enrichment work that I have been involved with since my own apprenticeship ended in 1989,” says Dawn. “I enjoy working one to one with employers and apprentices who are keen to work towards professional registration, especially at EngTech.

Dawn has recently sat as part of the adjudicating panel for Top 50 Women in Engineering: Current and Former Apprentices. Dawn will receive an official mention in the final publication.

» Dionne Collins (Engineering)

Name: Dionne Collins
Department: Engineering (Brunel Road)

Dionne is a big advocate of the power of apprenticeships to help enhance the future of a company. She started her own career as an apprentice, featuring in a national advertising campaign for apprenticeships at just 16, when she joined the electrical engineering department of Samuel Jones & Co Ltd.

“My apprenticeship started in the paper industries where we coated two tonne rolls of paper with silicon and adhesive; basically a massive sticky label. I learnt how to fully control the process from wiring heavy industrial cables to computer based environmental control systems,” says Dionne.

Dionne was later promoted to Chief Engineer, running a team of 30 engineers, before spending time in Ireland working for Diageo – better known as Guinness – on their canning and bottling lines to streamline and reduce the cost of downtime. “I have also worked with Coors and Coca Cola, and have installed some major warehousing and distribution centres all over the country,” says Dionne. “I can take my engineering skills and qualifications all over the world, using them in all types of industries – and I have.”

Dionne’s industry knowledge and qualifications enable her to now train future apprentices at Bedford College. She has worked with a number of employers for over 10 years now, even seeing her old apprentices become managers.

» Gordon Window (Business)

Name: Gordon Window 
Department: Business

Gordon started working at Bedford College 10 years ago as an Administrator in the Work Based Learning department where he completed his teaching and assessing qualifications. When a colleague retired, Gordon was offered the opportunity to apply for a position as an Assessor and now enjoys seeing learners realise their full potential and achieve the qualifications they need to progress.

I worked in education and for local government in customer service and administration roles for 20 years prior to becoming an Assessor,” explains Gordon, “So my administrative, organisational and IT skills are my biggest strengths that I bring to the role.

Quite often when I am observing apprentices in the workplace using their administration systems, I am able to offer advice and suggestions on how they may be able to improve these to reduce workloads and time spent on particular procedures.

Gordon says his biggest achievement as an Assessor has been completing his Internal Quality Assurance qualifications, while his proudest moment was seeing his first learner complete and achieve their qualification.

An advocate of apprenticeships, Gordon says: “Apprenticeships entail on the job training alongside off the job learning, enabling the apprentices to gain new skills which can be tailored specifically to the needs of a business.

» Jane Mead (Care, Childcare & Counselling and Business)

Name: Jane Mead 

Department: Care, Childcare & Counselling and Business

jane meadJane has worked in the care and nursing sector for 30 years and has always been involved with the training and development of new staff; from taking them through the induction process to highlighting and delivering additional training relevant to their role. She qualified as an Assessor in 1996 when she was part of the first NVQ qualifications delivered in Care. “After qualifying, I was able to deliver these excellent qualifications to a staff group who were now recognised for the achievements in their roles,” explains Jane.

This is my favourite part of the role,” says Jane, “To support a learner through the process of the qualification and see them achieve. Many of my learners have been in the industry for quite a time, with no recognition of their hard work and development.

Jane started her working life training to be a nurse in Bedford. She began working in the residential care sector after her children were born, but always remained involved with the training and development side until she reached the role of Manager in 2003.

I have seen many changes over my 30 years in the care industry and think of myself as adaptable and responsive to these,” says Jane. “I enjoy meeting new people and feel I learn as much from them as they do from me. I like to see people develop and achieve, and feel very proud when a learner progresses in their chosen field due to the qualification I have supported them with.

» Mahmut Aydinlik (Electrical Installation)

Name: Mahmut Aydinlik 
Department: Electrical Installation

Mahmut has spent 16 years working in industry and brings a huge amount of subject knowledge and experience into the classroom and workshop. He is proud of the journey he has been on as a Lecturer, which he attributes to his students and apprentices who challenge him to “know [his] subject matter like the back of [his] hand”!

The art of lecturing has fine-tuned an intuitive nature that I didn’t even know I had,” says Mahmut. “I view each and every student as a success in their own right. I know now that as a Lecturer, I’m always striving to do better than the day before and learning should never end; that is what makes this journey so exciting. There is always something new to experience.

Mahmut says that the best part of his role as an Assessor is seeing his students achieve their goals, and is keen to highlight a key benefit of apprenticeships to students and employers alike: “I believe becoming an apprentice gives someone the opportunity for an education free from any previous misconceptions; a way to shape their future.”

» Mark Downing (Computing)

Name: Mark Downing 
Department: Computing

mark downingMark joined Bedford College not as a staff member, but as an apprentice himself.

He started his apprenticeship after completing A-Levels, and was taken on by Bedford College IT Services as an IT Technician, once the apprenticeship finished. The role involved troubleshooting issues with hardware, software, networking and user issues across six campuses with 2,000 students.

He worked with the department for a further two years and then spent one year associate lecturing an A-Level course before moving over to work with the Computing department. It was here that Mark gained further teaching qualifications and mentored the newer apprentices in the department. He now assesses full-time alongside some part-time evening teaching as a fully qualified Cisco instructor.

I enjoy giving positive feedback about apprentices to the employers and seeing my apprentices succeed in learning new skills,” says Mark. “I’m new out of working in industry and hold a very good rapport with various contacts in the field. Emerging technology and best practice will always be a feature in my sessions.” One of Mark’s apprentices recently took first place in the world skills event and has made it through to the national final!

In the meantime, Mark is working on gaining several other Cisco, CompTIA and Microsoft qualifications alongside his HNC/HND with an end goal of a degree, masters and maybe even a PHD.

» Nicola Beacon (Business)

Name: Nicola Beacon
Department: Business

Nicola spent 14 years as HR Manager at Bedford College before taking her knowledge and skills into the classroom two years ago as a Business Lecturer and Higher Apprenticeship Assessor. She also delivers staff development workshops such as Safeguarding, PREVENT and Customer Service.

“In 2016 I was asked if I would like to join the Business School.  I welcomed the opportunity to move across to the delivery side of the business and pass on my business knowledge and HR expertise,” says Nicola.

“I absolutely love the part of my job where I introduce to my learners a new concept or approach that they have not heard of before, and get a thrill out of how far my learners, who want to learn the subject, go in developing their knowledge… I also enjoy learning about myself and what’s going on in other business sectors from my learners.”

Nicola says the highlight of her new role has been stepping into cover for Course Manager in Higher Education Business courses and achieving a good external examiner visit in 17/18.

Before joining Bedford College as HR Manager, Nicola spent seven years as Training Manager for Granada TV, now Boxclever call centre, designing and delivering their four week induction program. She has organised numerous staff conference events and been a guest speaker at countless business classes.

» Nicola Richard (Hairdressing)

Name: Nicola Richard
Department: Hairdressing (BROOKS)

Nicky has been in the hairdressing industry for 38 years and admits she is still as passionate and hungry for progression as she was the day she started! “Doing the job I do can hopefully inspire young people to have the same level of passion for this wonderful industry,” says Nicky.

Still working as a part-time Hairdresser alongside her College work, Nicky’s long career in the industry has seen her work as a Hairdresser, Salon Manager and Trainer. “The best part of this role is every time an apprentice grasps a skill, achieves an assessment, completes their qualification or achieves their maths and English, it makes me proud!”

Nicky is in contact with employers every day in her role and is excited about the new Hair Professional qualification, which will enable both trainers and employers to produce a high level of floor ready Junior Stylists.

Nicky says, “Each hair apprentice is bespoke to their individual salon and the employer can train their apprentice in the methods used within their salons, but they must meet the awarding body criteria safely, timely and to the final standard expected.”

» Tony Freda (Engineering)

Name: Tony Freda
Department: Engineering

Tony has enjoyed a varied career in engineering and is now giving back to the industry in his role as an Assessor at the College’s Brunel Road campus. “I started off in the eighties on the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) at Bedford College,” says Tony. “I received a great amount of support from the staff there and I am now trying to give something back.”

Having worked as a qualified Electrician and as a CNC Machinist, Tony says his biggest achievement in his role at the College has been gaining his Cert Ed, enabling him to teach and subsequently become an Assessor. He says: “I felt that I had the knowledge and experience to help apprentices in their career pathway. I was in their position once and I remember what it was like.”

Tony’s favourite part of the job is liaising with the apprentices and their managers: “I have good organisational skills and find it easy to communicate with people at different levels.” Having started his own career in the college environment, Tony is keen to highlight the advantages of a work-based training programme to the many employers in the industry: “You can start from scratch and mould the apprentice into what you want them to be and what you need them to do.”