Thomas Vipond is used to being labelled by his Asperger's syndrome and dyslexia.

But now, the 18-year-old from Kelvedon has a brand-new label – outstanding.

Student Thomas, of St Mary's Road, was honoured with the outstanding achievement prize at this month's Colchester Youth Awards.

He was nominated by Clyve Tanner, his tutor at Colchester Institute, where he has studied fabrication and welding for the last two years.

Now in his final year, Thomas said he has always had a love of practical pursuits, especially as his dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome made learning and interaction with others difficult.

“I can't spell or hand write very well at all, and I used to have problems with people,” said Thomas, who also has limited mobility due to knee problems.

“But I was into engineering from a young age.

“I used to like taking things apart and putting them back together, and that's where I got an interest in welding.”

Following the end of his studies at Thriftwood Special School in Chelmsford, Thomas took it upon himself to ask about the fabrication and welding course at Colchester Institute.

His tutors welcomed him with open arms.

“It's been great here,” said Thomas, who lives with mum Annabel and stepdad Chris.

“The facilities are brilliant.

“But it's not just the equipment, you can find that anywhere – it's the people.

“My tutors have been really helpful and I've got friends here now.”

Thomas added that he was “delighted” to have won the outstanding achievement award.

“I didn't even expect to get nominated,” he said.

But for Clyve Tanner, Thomas was a natural choice.

“When I heard about the Colchester Youth Awards, I thought of him,” said Mr Tanner.

“There isn't usually awards for people like Tom.

“He has travelled such a distance and has really blossomed.

“He's great in class, incredibly enthusiastic and inspirational.

“There's no such thing as a model student but Tom isn't far away.”