EDUCATOR Mike Hopkins from Feckenham has also been awarded the MBE – and he’ll be joining Geoff Thomas on The Tour21.
The 63 year-old is the Principal, South and City College, Birmingham and he’s received his award for services to education.
However he’s also a keen cyclist and lives just three miles away from Geoff.
“We have been doing mega-miles in training for the Tour21,” he said.
“We cycled to Cardiff the other day, stayed overnight and then cycled back, but you have to get the miles in because the Tour is so tough.”
Mike became the Principal of South Birmingham College in 2007, leading on the successful mergers of two failing colleges, City College in 2011 which saved 331 jobs and safeguarded the future of 14,000 students, and Bournville College in 2017, securing 266 jobs and allowing 12,500 students to continue their education.
His leadership has transformed an under performing college into one of the biggest and consistently top performing inner-city colleges in England.
Bournville College is now a centre of excellence for engineering with students having direct access to the University of Birmingham.
Speaking on the MBE he said: “It really was a complete surprise and to be honest I do what I do and I love what I do and obviously the colleges have been very successful.
“However, it’s not something you do on your own and it’s taken a really good team, and at the college we have an absolutely brilliant team, to achieve this.”
When lockdown was announced he faced the difficult task of figuring out how he and his staff would be able to continue to support over 20,000 pupils from eight different campuses in the seventh most deprived local authority in England.
Birmingham suffers from high levels of deprivation, with 43 per cent of the population living in the 10 per cent most deprived areas of England.
This meant many of the students, and some staff did not have the necessary IT equipment to work from home.
He led in helping to issue 1,800 laptops and phones to enable students and staff to carry on working.
Students with no access to the internet are sent monthly packs to enable them to continue to access their education.
To date, an incredible 1,570 packs have been issued to students over the last three months.
He also encouraged staff to support each other, which led to a ‘quiet night in’ – a weekly virtual session for staff to drop in and share their passion or talents with others.
Mike’s father died of leukaemia four years ago providing him with plenty of motivation to tackle the gruelling ride, and he’s already done one fundraising event to boost the Cure Leukaemia total.
To boost Mike’s fundraiser for Tour21 and Cure Leukaemia visit: here .