TWO adult learners from Gwent who’ve inspired others have picked up national awards for their efforts.

Paul Sharman, 42, from Croesyceiliog, and Neville Brooks, 49, from Blaenavon, were recognised at the Inspire Adult Learning Awards on Thursday night.

Mr Brooks picked up the Outstanding New Tutor Award for helping ex-substance misusers to get back into education, employment or volunteering, while Mr Sharman was handed the Learning in a Digital World award after overcoming spinal injuries to pursue a career in IT.

Cerys Furlong, director of NIACE Cymru who organised the awards, said the pair are “an absolute inspiration” tand “thoroughly deserve” the award.

After Mr Sharman suffered severe spinal injuries in a life-changing accident, he set about on a career change.

He completed IT Practitioners qualifications and in January started work as a network analyst with Torfaen SRS.

He’s also been studying for a degree in computing and IT with the Open University.

“Before my accident, I’d been a printer for 20 years, but due to my mobility issues I was unable to continue my job,” he said.

“I’d always had an interest in IT, so I decided to improve my skills and gain qualifications in that field. I’m over the moon to have picked up this award and I’m glad to have been recognised for what I’ve achieved.

“Looking back it wasn’t always easy as I had lots of health issues and many hospital stays.

“I really hope these schemes can be continually funded so that more people can get back on track and into continued employment.”

Mr Sharman was nominated for the award by Linda Bendon from Bridges into Work and Working Skills for Adults.

She said his award is “absolutely deserved”.

Having worked in the area of substance misuse for more than 20 years, Mr Brooks has helped prisoners, drug users and alcoholics get back into full time work, volunteering or education.

He began his career as a training officer for Focus DIY, but after completing a diploma in counselling he joined Drug Aid where he worked with ex-drug users on probation.

Later Mr Brooks spearheaded the Drug Intervention Programme across Gwent and was responsible for introducing “test on arrest”, the first of its kind in Wales, referring users onto a drugs agency for support.

After being made redundant in 2011, he set up his own business NJB Consultancy, and now works with Torfaen adult and community learning where he runs a City and Guilds certificate.

Speaking about his win, Mr Brooks said: “It’s great to have won the award.

“My next project is to secure funding to run a programme in Prescoed Prison where prisoners will mentor other prisoners and gain a qualification in doing so.”