poppy for web v3“When people started messaging me saying I’d made them cry, I knew I’d done a good job.”

Leo Kelly is a man on a mission this Christmas – a mission to tug on the heartstrings and get people reflecting on what has been a turbulent year for all of us.

The 17-year-old Level 3 Creative Media student may be in the first year of his studies at Northampton College but the talented teenager has produced a festive film that seasoned industry experts have hailed as a ‘masterpiece’.

The poignant video, heavily inspired by previous John Lewis adverts, tells the tale of his family dog going missing, with a long and anguished search proving fruitless until the mischievous pooch, Poppy, emerges at the front door just in time for Christmas, to the delight of Leo’s little brother, Ben, aged 11.

Leo said: “I’m from a generation that has grown up with a phone in their hand at all times so filming things is second nature to me. It’s something I love doing and I have always made short clips or versions of music videos and I love editing them afterwards.

“When I had the chance to do this for a college project I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I have loved the John Lewis adverts over the years and I really wanted to use those as my inspiration.

“Emotion is a huge part of those films and I wanted to capture that feeling in my version too. I wanted to produce a video that made people upset but then wrap it up with a message of hope and happiness at the end, which is something we all need after what has been such a difficult year.”

The video was shot across eight locations around Northamptonshire, including Althorp, Hardingstone and Gayton and took six days to film over three weekends.

Poppy, an eight-year-old Bichon Frisé and cavalier King Charles spaniel crossbreed, plays a starring role in the film.

“She was amazing”, adds Leo. “Considering she’s totally untrained we were able to get her to play the part brilliantly. My family helped a lot and we made sure we had plenty of treats to hand to get her to focus.”

As with all John Lewis adverts, the soundtrack to Leo’s piece was all-important, and he was able to call on a family friend for further inspiration.

Chart-topping performer Freya Ridings once sung at a relation’s wedding and her standout song ‘Lost Without You’ proved the perfect accompaniment to the heart-wrenching film.

The video has already attracted thousands of views on Leo’s YouTube channel and his tutors have been full of praise for his work, with the college using it as part of its official digital Christmas greeting.

Principal of Northampton College, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said: “Leo’s outstanding video is an incredibly touching film which perfectly encapsulates the spirit of emotive messaging.

“It is heavily influenced by the Christmas advertising campaigns we have seen from the likes of John Lewis in recent years and this would be worthy of a place alongside anything they have produced. It is truly exceptional.

“As a college we are delighted to be able to showcase Leo’s work to a wider audience and will be using it across our social media channels this Christmas. It is a prime example of what can be achieved by students who combine a strong work ethic with an imaginative mind and an eye for detail.”


will press releaseA Northampton College student with a “burning ambition” to grace the airwaves has landed a Silver Award for a sports show on a local radio station at a leading national awards ceremony.

cameron simmons for web
In the space of four years Cameron Simmons has gone from a shy teenager on an Education, Health and Care Plan to securing a job at one of the nation’s leading logistics companies – and he puts his progress down to his time at Northampton College.

The 20-year-old, from Wellingborough, has recently gained full-time employment at Clipper, where he will work in the returns department for John Lewis.

It is a meteoric rise from his first days at college. Cameron spent two years in the Supported Learning department before completing both Level 1 and 2 in IT. He then went onto a Supported Internship and has now found himself in full-time employment having impressed bosses with his enthusiasm and work ethic.

He said: “I’m very grateful to Northampton College for giving me the opportunity to get to where I am today. It wouldn’t have been possible four years but I now have the skills and confidence I need to succeed in the working world.”

Cameron’s four-month internship was carried out through a partnership with Mencap, working in a warehouse at Clipper’s John Lewis department. The role involves independent thinking, time management and social skills – all valuable skills picked up by Cameron during his time at Northampton College.

Excelling on the Skills for Working Life course, Cameron continually asked for additional work, showed willing at home and mastered independent travel – also becoming a prominent figure in his local church group.

Curriculum Manager for Learning Support (SENCO) Helen Janska said “Cameron is a credit to his family and everyone in the Supported Learning department. His journey is truly inspirational and proves just how much students can progress in a college environment.

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