Supermarket staff check out new skills with Valleys college

Students are being inspired to pursue careers in the film industry as their lecturer joins the cast of Ridley Scott’s next blockbuster, where for the next four weeks his pupils will include big-screen A-listers Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton.

Alistair Aston, a lecturer in 3D design at the Coleg y Cymoedd, describes himself first and foremost as a teacher. However, over the last five years, he has also become a highly sought-after archery consultant, prop-maker and instructor for the Hollywood film industry.

Alistair’s current movie exploits have seen him on location in Spain, where he will provide archery training to Welsh film legend Christian Bale on the set of Exodus, Ridley Scott’s next biblical block blockbuster.

Alistair’s involvement in the film world began on the beaches of West Wales, when he applied for a supporting artist role in the cast of Ridley Scott’s 2010 movie, Robin Hood. The energetic educationalist, who has competed in national longbow tournaments for many years and held the world record in 2007, was recognised by a member of the archery training crew and asked to lead the training of extras on the set.

Rubbing shoulders with Hollywood royalty aside, Alistair believes the most valuable aspect of his participation in movie production is the ability it has given him to demonstrate to his students the employment opportunities that exist in the creative and design industries.

He said: “There is no denying that being part of major Hollywood projects is an exciting undertaking, but what’s truly rewarding is being able to demonstrate to students the real opportunities they have to apply the skills they’re learning in the creative industries and how they can earn a living from those skills.

Many students believe working in the film or TV industry is an unobtainable goal, it isn’t. Yes, my students want to know what Batman is like in person – and he is exceedingly professional, but what I try to instil in them is the drive to apply themselves and to be passionate about their education and their outside interests.

Real opportunities exist for these students, for example I’m just one lecturer at the college who works in the industry in addition to teaching. Some of my college colleagues work with the BBC, the Welsh National Opera and other world class organisations and bring that real-life experience into the classroom. Those links also enable us to help students gain real work experience with national broadcasters and production companies and this has often led to employment or has contributed to students winning coveted places at high profile universities.”

Recently two Coleg y Cymoedd students secured paid apprenticeships with BBC Wales. Lucy Robertson, 19, from Gelli, currently working on a number of projects with the broadcaster’s art department. Lucia Strinati, 19, from Caerphilly, secured a coveted role within the BBC Wales costume department, which will allow her to transfer the 3D project design skills she has gained at the college.

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Alistair’s skills and spirit of adventure in getting involved in the film industry illustrate the exceptional quality of the teaching staff at the college. His work in films and that of his colleagues with the creative industries, allows their students to see how they can apply the own skills, progress to higher studies or employment and inspires them to pursue their own dreams and career goals.”

Students exhibit their up-cycled boutique chic

Caring students from Coleg y Cymoedd Ystrad Mynach campus have raised over £600 as well as donating essential aid supplies including donations of clothes and toiletries. The student’s generous contribution will play an important part in the supplies being sent out to the Philippines. The Filipino Society in South Wales will send supplies out to the country to help with rehabilitation projects. The money raised from the fundraising activities carried out by students will be put towards the cost of a container to ship out all the supplies.

The students who are studying Childcare and Health and Social Care courses were visited by Chairperson Evelyn Morgan, Vice Chairperson Theodore Arriola, Secretary Len Viajar, Treasurer Arlene Barron, and Fund Raising Co-ordinator Felma Arriola, all from the Filipino Society in South Wales. They personally thanked the students for all their hard work in raising such a large sum of money.

During the visit, the students interviewed the Chairperson and learnt more about the issues families were facing in the Philippines and the difference their contributions would make to the country following the devastatingTyphoon in November that has affected nearly 13 million people. Students said that they “did not realise how bad the devastation was until the Chairperson told them that her family had been running for their lives”.

Tutor Karen Stratford-Davies said “the hard work and kindness shown by students in raising such a large amount of money is very heart-warming especially at this time of year when Christmas is nearly upon us”. Other Tutors Gill Tyler and Sharon Reed both vowed to undertake additional fund raising activities next year with students because aid will be required for quite some time.

The day came to a close with the Filipino Society Wales singing a traditional song in their language of Tagalog. Students were given the words on and attempted to join in. Evelyn Morgan, Chairperson of the Philippines Society in South Wales said “we are all overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received today by staff and students. We expected to be shown into an office and just given a cheque. We are all very grateful for the donation which will make such a difference to children and families in the Philippines”.

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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