A woman has won an award in recognition of how she changed her life through adult learning.

After being made redundant aged 51, Ursula Stone signed up for a course in floristry at Capel Manor College - and began a journey that would transform her not only into a florist, but also into a teacher and social entrepreneur.

Her achievements include creating the Flower Bank, which reduces flower and foliage wastage by taking unwanted produce from supermarkets and turning it into designs for the local community.

She has also worked with with young offenders, teaching them the rudiments of floristry using the donated flowers.

At a ceremony in central London this week she was presented with a social impact award from the Festival of Learning, which celebrates the outstanding achievements of adults who have used learning to transform their lives.

Stephen Evans, chief executive at Learning and Work Institute, said:“Ursula’s story is a great example of how gaining new skills can provide opportunities to change career and also start your own business. We congratulate Ursula for her innovation and creativity in using her new skills to empower disadvantaged young people to transform their lives.

“Festival of Learning is all about inspirational stories of people like Ursula that show that anyone can benefit from learning. Lifelong learning is vital for all of us as jobs and society change around us. We encourage everyone to give learning a try, particularly in June when hundreds of free activities can be found on our Have a Go Month calendar."

Prior to attending the floristry course, Ursula had set up a business tending graves, but she wanted to offer the option of fresh floral tributes. That's why she enrolled on a Level 1 Floristry course to learn how to create them, but she quickly blossomed and progressed to Level 3.

Ursula, who won the award for highly commended individual, is now teaching Floristry at Harlow College with funding to create a growing space for her work with young offenders. she also creates funeral designs for families on low incomes using the surplus flowers.

She said: “Studying floristry has shaped the person I have become, given direction to my life, and made me a social entrepreneur.”

Melissa Pauley, Ursula’s floristry tutor at Capel Manor College, said: “Ursula’s journey has been remarkable. She thrives on the ability to give back to the community and others in any way she can. We give our students real-life opportunities to develop their skills and experiences and have fun while studying. Capel Manor College’s school of floristry are in the unique position of being London’s largest provider of floristry courses.”

Further information on learning opportunities and support with costs of courses is available through the National Careers Service, colleges and community learning providers. For more information about the Festival of Learning visit www.festivaloflearning.org.uk