Oh yes they are…Leading the way in the Costume Industry

Eleven contenders are competing for the coveted Junior Chef of Wales title and a fantastic prize in two regional heats, one at the Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw campus.

The South Wales heat at Coleg y Cymoedd on January 14 was contested by five chefs, including a Coleg y Cymoedd learner who was up against chefs already working in well-known restaurants and hotels.

Apart from the prestige of being the best young chef in Wales, the champion will also win an all-expenses paid trip to represent Wales at the Junior Forum at the World Association of Chefs’ Societies Congress in Athens, Greece in May 2016.

The winners of each heat together with the two highest scoring runners up will qualify for the final to be held at Coleg Llandrillo on February 16, on the eve of the Welsh International Culinary Championships.

Organised every two years by the Culinary Association of Wales, the Junior Chef of Wales contest is sponsored by the Welsh Government to promote the Food and Drink Wales brand.

The chefs were asked to submit their own creative menu for a three course dinner for four persons, using a selection of Welsh products. From the entry forms and menus, a panel of experienced judges selected the best entrants to compete in the regional finals where they will have three hours to cook their dishes.

The South Wales heat contestants are: Ian McCormack and Wensley Macauly both from Coleg y Cymoedd alongside Benjamin Cooke from Brains, Cardiff, Andrew Tabberner from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, and Vivienne Read from Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

Culinary Association Wales president Colin Gray, owner of Capital Cuisine, said he was delighted with the number of entries this year and looked forward to two keenly contested heats.

He explained that the competition could be a stepping stone to joining the junior Culinary Team Wales in the future.

“The Junior Chef of Wales contest provides the perfect platform for young chefs to demonstrate their skills and catch the eye of national team selectors,” he added. “Previous winners have gone on to compete for Wales at all the major culinary competitions around the world.

“For example, the Junior Chef of Wales winner in 2013, Chris Tull, captained the junior Culinary Team Wales at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg next month, where they won silver and bronze medals.”

The bi-annual hunt for Wales’ culinary stars of the future began with the North Wales head at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea, where six chefs competed for a place in the final.

Competing in the North Wales heat are: Arron Tye from Shared Olive, Hawarden, Mathew Morris from Bar Uno, Bangor University, Joshua Hughes from Quay Hotel, Deganwy, Sam Ricketts from Signatures Restaurant, Conwy, James Roberts from Ty Gwyn Hotel, Betws y Coed and Ryan Philipps from Castle Hotel, Conwy.

Beauty learners spreading Christmas joy

Learners and staff at Coleg y Cymoedd have started 2015 in style with a host of award wins across the college’s academic and vocational departments.

The college, which has 3000 full time learners across its five campuses in the Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly Boroughs, is celebrating national awards recognition for its engineering, hair and beauty, academic and A-level departments.

The WJEC has given the college special cause to celebrate this festive season, following the exam board’s announcement that one of its learners has been selected as the Level 1 Welsh Baccalaureate Learner of the Year.

Dion Newtown, 18, from Clydach Vale, is currently working on her Welsh Baccalaureate as part of her skills for further studies course at the college’s Rhondda Campus. In addition to her college work, earlier this year Dion travelled to Cambodia to spend her summer volunteering with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).

The WJEC has also announced that former Coleg y Cymoedd A-level learner, Shannon Britain, scored the highest marks in A-level law across the whole of England and Wales this year. Shannon received full marks in her law exam, and her overall A*, A*A (in A Level law, English Literature and history) secured her a place studying English literature at Oxford University.

The 2014 WorldSkills Finals saw Ashleigh Simmons, a hair and beauty learner from the college’s Nantgarw campus, beat off competition from more than 300 entrants to receive the bronze award and the privilege of training with the British Hairdressing Squad. While at the event, Ashleigh also took first place at the Welsh National Championships, with fellow course mate, Bethan Walters securing third place.

The college’s Nantgarw-based engineering team, have been confirmed as the UK Further Education Team of the Year in the high-profile annual Pearson Teaching Awards.

The department’s 28-strong team received the prestigious silver award as recognition of the breadth of expertise in aeronautical, electrical and mechanical engineering and drive to be the best provider of engineering apprenticeship training in Wales”.

Speaking on the award recognition, Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said:

“Our entire college joins together in celebration of this array of awards wins. These recognitions are a perfect end to an exceptional year for Coleg y Cymoedd and signify the dedication and hard work of our learners and teaching staff.

“On behalf of the entire college I congratulate Dion, Shannon, Bethan and Ashleigh. These successes are just rewards for their commitment to their personal development and I’m sure many more will follow in the near future.

“We also applaud our engineering department’s outstanding achievement at the Pearson Awards. The department’s leadership and staff exemplify the commitment to educational rigor that exists across all of our campuses.

“As we look towards the New Year I would like to thank all of our learners, staff and corporate partners, for their collective efforts to ensure that our college continues to succeed in its mission to strengthen South Wales’ communities through excellent education opportunities and vocational training.”

Inspirational learner top of the class with best marks in the country

A young woman from South Wales has boosted her knowledge and skills by working alongside a Nobel Prize winner.

Chloe Brind, 18 from Bargoed, a learner at Coleg y Cymoedd, was one of only 68 people across Wales to take part in a Nuffield Research project this year. The specialist research, in Chloe’s field of science, was supported by the National Museum of Wales in the Biodiversity & Systematic Biology Department, where Chloe was completing a placement at the time.

The Nuffield Research Placement provides leaners each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, available across the UK in universities, commercial companies, voluntary organisations and research institutions.

The aim of Chloe’s research project was to investigate the physical characteristics and genetic differences between two types of lugworm. Significantly during her research, new characteristics were identified and more differences between the two species of lugworm were found than previously described. This research was found extremely useful by the Museum, making it significantly easier to distinguish the two species.

During the placement, Chloe had the opportunity to meet a former Nobel Prize winner, Professor Sir Martin Evans who is based at Cardiff University, and who was able to discuss the various aspects of Chloe’s project with her.

Chloe said: “The Nuffield Research placement was a really rewarding experience and it was fantastic to be able to work with leading scientists in their specialist field.

“My research task was really interesting and helped me decide that this is the career I definitely want to pursue.”

As part of the scheme participants were invited to Techniquest in Cardiff Bay to display the results of their research. It is hoped that the placement with the National Museum of Wales will secure Chloe’s place at Birmingham University once she finishes her A-levels in June.

Ian Rees, Head of Coleg y Cymoedd’s dedicated Sixth Form Centre at the Nantgarw campus, commented on Chloe’s success: “We are delighted and proud that Chloe has been chosen to have the opportunity to take part in one of the prestigious Nuffield research placements, and very much hope it will lead to further exam and career success for her in her chosen field of Science.”

From A Levels to volunteering in the Philippines

A group of Coleg y Cymoedd learners from the Ystrad Mynach campus took part in a recent workshop organised by Fixers; an organisation where young people use their past to fix the future. These people are motivated by personal experience to make positive change for themselves and those around them.

The ten learners studying on the Business Administration Level 3 and Office Essentials with Paralegal Studies courses were invited to participate in the event; where 21 year old Shauna Pugh delivered an extremely interesting session, highlighting her condition of Dissociative Amnesia. She explained her experiences and feelings of coping with the condition and through a series of activities and discussions, engaged with the learners. Shauna shared with the learners her ambitions of studying at university but then at 18 years of age, whilst studying for her A Levels she was diagnosed with Dissociative Amnesia. Notwithstanding all her experiences she still has her sights set on furthering her education at some point in the future.

The workshop was beneficial to the 10 learners who gained an insight into this extremely rare condition. Learner Shannon Kinsey aged 17 from Business Administration Level 3 said “I really enjoyed the session. Shauna is an inspiration; she has such a positive outlook and wants to send a clear message out, especially to young people. Mental illness can affect people of all ages but there is always someone there to help, support and care for you”.

The workshop was filmed for use by the ITV and was broadcast in February 2015: http://www.fixers.org.uk/news/11171-11208/memory-loss-fix-on-itv.php

Cymoedd volleyball players qualify for British Championships

As the pantomime season approaches, two Coleg y Cymoedd tutors have taken a lead role in ensuring this year’s Rhondda Cynon Taf pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, will follow the record breaking success of previous years.

The industry skills of both tutors Caroline Thomas and Richard Embling were evident in past productions and led to them being approached by Rhondda Cynon Taf Theatre for their professional touch on this year’s panto. The duo hopes to add that special touch of magic to the success of this traditional family show.

Caroline has led the Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) in Costume Construction for Screen and Stage at Coleg y Cymoedd since 2010 and has over 20 years’ experience, working extensively as a successful costumier; predominately in the theatre.

With her expertise in pattern cutting and construction she was Senior Costume Maker in the costume team at the Welsh National Opera working within repertory theatre, including the Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Clwyd.

No stranger to the screen and television industry, Caroline has also made costumes for feature films including Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and more recently the Dr. Who television series.

Since 2012 Richard joined the team at Coleg y Cymoedd and is employed as the prop making lecturer on the HND in Creative Production Arts course, specialising in prop making, body casting and mould making.

Richard graduated with a BA (Hons) Model Making for Design & Media from Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2006 and has worked on many live industry productions as a freelance costume prop, puppetry and small props maker.

He has worked with world renowned companies such as The Welsh National Opera making costume props for their main house production of Cosi Fan Tutte in 2012 and for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Welsh Rugby Union and P&O cruises.

This is the fourth year that learners studying on the Foundation Degree and B.A. (Hons) Costume Construction for Screen and Stage courses have been involved with the pantomime. Since September the second year learners have been working tirelessly, against extremely tight deadlines to produce the stunning range of costumes for the cast including Jack, Dame Trott, Fleshcreep, Fairy Flora, Princess Crumble and Utterly and Butterly.

Learner Amy Jones said “Producing the costumes for the pantomime under tight deadlines has been a huge challenge; not only do they have to look effective but they have to be hard wearing as they need to look just as good on the final day of the pantomime as on the first day. The cast were lovely to work with and their comments were amazing; I felt so proud to see my costumes on stage during the pantomime. Working on this project has given me an insight into working in the industry”.

Written and directed by Richard Tunley; the storyline of poor Jack, together with magical special effects, spectacular scenery and giant-sized comedy will undoubtedly prove a big hit with all the family.

Welsh favourite Frank Vickery who plays Dame Trott said “This is the fourth year we’ve worked with the students and this year’s costumes are exceptional. The range of costumes are all made to measure, this makes such a difference as we need to be comfortable when acting. The quality of their work is very professional and the attention to detail is second to none – well done”


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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