everyone has a personal best

Cambian Whinfell School

A life less ordinary

On 22 May 2013, Angela Nightingale, Cambian’s Operations Director for Education, was invited to a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of her contribution to services in education and the community.

Angela Nightingale is not a woman who shouts about her achievements but when others nominated her to be recognised for her commitment and passion, she attracted numerous letters of support leading her to be presented to Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and cousin ,and cousin of The Queen, who thanked her for her achievements.

Angela joined Cambian in 1995 as a teacher responsible for setting up post-16 education for people with Asperger’s syndrome. She went on to set up The Wing Centre in Bournemouth and at one point was Head of both Southlands School and The Wing Centre. When she was promoted to Operations Director at Cambian, she became responsible for seven schools with more than 400 residential places for children diagnosed with autistic spectrum conditions, severe learning difficulties and complex needs.

She said: “I have had the honour and privilege of working with some amazing, wonderful young people, families and colleagues. We had a grand day out at Buckingham Palace seeing the Royal family at close quarters, rubbing shoulders with Team GB and meeting some fantastic people”.

Many people commented that Angela is a person devoted to the care and wellbeing of others. In a letter of support for Angela’s nomination, colleague Wendy Graham wrote: “Angela is a very special person who devotes all aspects of her life for the good of others”.

Between 1977 and 1995, Angela was a teacher of Drama, Dance and English, teaching a range of students from the highly academic to those with learning difficulties and succeeded in inspiring them all with enthusiasm for the subjects she taught.

From 2010 to 2012, she led training teams to Saudi Arabia and Dubai where she worked to assist schools to develop their education programmes and increase understanding of autism.

Angela has also been a volunteer at the annual Wylye Valley Disabled Children’s Riding Charity, which she started doing when she was just 15-years-old.

Paul and Patricia Hedges from Oxfordshire, wrote: “Angela has an absolute conviction that the challenges presented by Asperger’s syndrome can be overcome…we watched her passion and visionary zeal transform many young men’s lives, including our son’s. It is difficult to describe what makes Angela Nightingale’s sympathetic and vibrant nature such a beacon of hope for the young people in her care but rarely have we met a person who readily exudes such levels of dedication and selfless enthusiasm.

Kathryn and Michael Kolanko, parents of a former student, added: “She contributed a tremendous enthusiasm to the atmosphere of the school, showing a deep empathy with the students and a gritty determination to help them overcome their difficulties.”

Jo Dexter, Head of Quality Assurance and Compliance, added: “I have worked with Angela for 16 years. In 1995, autistic spectrum disorders were still not widely diagnosed or understood. She developed a practical understanding of this learning disability and motivated, guided and educated those around her.”

Mike McQuaid, Chief Operating Officer at Cambian Group, concluded by saying: “I am constantly amazed and humbled by the caring nature and affinity Angela shows to students, parents and staff alike. I have never come across someone who has as much empathy and care as exhibited by Angela on a daily basis.

“She takes a particular interest with parents and spends time and effort in reassuring them… She stands head and shoulders above anyone else I have ever had the privilege of working with, in her efforts to better the quality of the lives of those whom we care for on a daily basis.”

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