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Microsoft Office Specialist Academic Competition: UK winners announced

The UKs best students of Microsoft Word and Excel have had their achievements acknowledged at an awards ceremony at the Microsoft Campus in Reading.

Star students Keith Weaver of West Cheshire College and Tim Woolcock of Cornwall College achieved the highest scores in the UK final of the 2004 Microsoft Office Specialist Academic Competition.

The students each received a Toshiba Tablet PC in recognition of their success, and will now represent the UK in the grand final for the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region, to be held in Paris from 13th 15th July 2004. There students will compete for the titles of 2004 Microsoft Word EMEA Champion and 2004 Microsoft Excel EMEA Champion and the prize of a trip to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, USA.

Tim Woolcock, 26, of Cornwall College who, in addition to winning first prize for the Excel competition, was also awarded second place in the Word competition, commented, "I worked really hard for the Microsoft Office Specialist exams in Word and Excel and am really pleased to win awards in both. Im looking forward to competing against winners from countries across Europe at the final Excel competition in Paris and would love to win the trip to Microsoft in Seattle."

Winner of the Word competition, Keith Weaver of West Cheshire College said, "Im really delighted to win the Office Specialist prize for Word. Its very exciting to represent the UK at the next competition and I'm looking forward to the trip at Paris and meeting winners from the other countries."

Other high achieving students were also celebrated in the awards ceremony. Tim Woolcock of Cornwall College took second place in the Word competition, and Alasdair Mackie of Acuity Training Ltd took second place in the Excel competition, and were each presented with an iPod. Wayne Hackney, of West Cheshire College and Gemma Brenton of Cornwall College took third places in the Word and Excel competitions respectively, and each received an Xbox.

Students entered the competition by taking Microsoft Office Specialist exams in Word 2002 and Excel 2002.

David Libbert of BBC Learning, commented, "The BBC and the Learning and Skills Council are delighted to see this recognition of excellence in IT and greatly support the concept of celebrating achievement. Events such as these are extremely important in raising the standards of IT skills and the profile of the issue. I look forward to seeing similar initiatives in the future".

David Burrows, Director of Education / Voluntary Markets & Skills Development, Microsoft Ltd, said, "IT skills are becoming increasingly essential in the workplace, and programmes such as Microsoft Office Specialist are an excellent way for students to demonstrate their IT skills to employers. My congratulations go to all of the UK finalists, and I wish Tim Woolcock and Keith Weaver the best of luck for the grand final in Paris."

The IT Academies who submitted the most entrants to the competition were also rewarded. Cornwall College took top honours and was presented with the Gold Award plaque. Haberdashers Askes Hatcham College and West Cheshire College received the Silver Award and Bronze Award respectively. Jackie Macartney, ICT Admin Assistant at Cornwall College commented, "The Microsoft Office Specialist exams have enabled students at Cornwall College to develop important IT skills and its wonderful to see them gaining recognition for their hard work and dedication. All of the students also really enjoyed the tour of Microsoft's headquarters in the UK."

Individual trainers at IT Academies were also recognised at the awards ceremony, with prizes going to the trainers whose students achieved the best results. Debbie Hill of Doncaster College, Jon Wilson of The Leigh City Technology College, and Sue Wright of The Blue Coat School, Oldham each received a Pocket PC and set of Microsoft learning materials.

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