Cymoedd learners bring festive cheer to local community

As we approach the season of goodwill Cymoedd learners have been busy collecting food items and toys to create Christmas hampers for the local community.

For the past sixteen years the college has worked firstly, with Social Services and more recently in partnership with Valleys Kids to ensure families living in the area around the Nantgarw campus will be able to enjoy the festive season.

Level 3 Public Services learners at the Nantgarw campus, under the guidance of tutors Sue Underwood –Gibbs and Rachel Roberts have worked tirelessly on the project to fundraise and collect items for the hampers. Thanking her learners Sue said” I cannot praise the learners enough for their dedication, commitment and hard work during this very worthwhile community project”.

Over 25 learners formed a group to plan, organise and collect food and donations for this very worthy cause. Earlier this week a total of 20 food parcels and 200 gift wrapped Christmas presents for all age groups were delivered to families within the local community.

Erika Taylor, Project Co-ordinator for Valleys Kids; a community development initiative who develop and undertake a variety of projects within the Rhydyfelin community said” A huge thank you to the staff and learners at the college, it’s been a privilege to work in partnership with the college and all the young people who take the time to collect these gifts and food parcels”.

Cllr. Maureen Webber, Elected Member for Rhydyfelin added “The commitment and dedication by these young people to this cause has been remarkable throughout the years, I’m sure they will all become outstanding and active citizens in their own right. We hope this partnership will continue long in to the future as over 5,000 people within Rhondda Cynon Taf, many of these being children are now having to rely on food banks.

Public Services learners Emily Carter and Ellie Harvey said” We are really pleased to have been given the opportunity to work Valleys Kids, not only did it enable us to come together as a group and make a difference within our local community but, it has also enabled us to develop a wide range of skills such as problem solving, communication, numeracy and teamwork. We hope that our efforts will bring a little happiness into their lives this Christmas”.

Christmas card competition winner

Pupils from Blackwood Primary School scooped both prizes in this year’s Design a Christmas card competition.

The College organise an annual competition, engaging primary schools throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly.

Competition winner was seven year old, Ethan Jenkins with his delightful ‘reindeer’ design, with Megan Morris, Class 11 being selected as runner up, with her brightly designed Christmas Tree.

Kind hearted Cymoedd learners raise awareness of Oliver’s journey

It might be icy outside but this did not stop the determination of the learners at the Ystrad Mynach campus who were eager to help fundraise for their tutor’s son, Oliver. The BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care learners raised £190 through their table top stall and raffle; selling the products to fellow learners and staff.

Thanking the learners Course Tutor Phillip Webber said” I am extremely proud of my group and their motivation, not only in raising money for my brave son, Oliver but for raising awareness of his condition. To find out more about Oliver’s Heart & Feeding Journey

Coleg y Cymoedd learners raise funds for local charity

Each year, Vocational Access staff and learners from across all campuses and the Learning Curve get together to rehearse and perform a pantomime; which has always proved to be the highlight of the year for all involved.

This year was no different, the E3 Creative Arts and Media learners decided on a production of Snow White and wrote their own script; which proved both creative and funny.

The rehearsals started after October Half Term, giving the learners just four weeks to put the show together but great team work ensured the production was ready for the three performances earlier this month.

Over 100 learners from several Vocational Access courses were involved with the pantomime, enjoying a range of responsibilities including acting, dancing, singing, making props and scenery, selling tickets, playing musical instruments, working backstage and front of house; greeting the audiences. The learners were grateful to the L3 Production Arts-make up learners, who provided the professional touch to the cast’s appearance.

Packed audiences were treated to excellent singing and acting and with their support over £600 was raised for Llamau & Ty Hafan and one other charity to be decided by the learners.

Cerys Coleman, from Llwynypia who is currently studying on the E3 Creative Media Course played the lead role of Snow White, after the performance she said” We had a fantastic time and feel really sad now that it’s all over”.

Thanking the audience, tutor Angela Martin stated “We have had such a fun rehearsal period resulting in three fantastic performances. Staff and learners have worked their socks off and we are all so proud of the achievements of our amazing learners”.

Stagecoach in South Wales goes for gold in Caerphilly and the Rhondda Valleys

Passengers travelling between Blaencwm and Blaenrhondda in the Rhondda Fawr Valley to Caerphilly will be able to travel in greater style and comfort as Stagecoach in South Wales officially launches its latest fleet of luxury Gold buses today.

Stagecoach’s over £4 million investment means travellers using the Stagecoach Service 120/130 bus route, which passes through the Rhondda Fawr valley serving Tonypandy, Porth, Pontypridd and Nantgarw towards Caerphilly, will be treated to a five star luxury service as they enjoy the comfort of e-leather high back seats, increased leg room and free WiFi and USB charging. Bilingual audio and visual next stop announcements have been introduced which provides passengers with additional information on their journey.

The latest launch of Stagecoach Gold buses is the third fleet of its kind to be introduced in South Wales. Service 120/130 joins the 132 gold service which was launched in 2016 and operates from Maerdy to Cardiff. The first gold service, Service X24 was launched back in 2015 and operates from Blaenavon to Newport via Pontypool and Cwmbran.

Nigel Winter, Managing Director of Stagecoach in South Wales commented: “We continue to significantly invest in our fleet to improve the passenger experience. Investment in new buses since 2007 (10 years) has reached over £30m with 263 new buses, with over £4m of investment this year adding to a consistent pattern of investment in passenger transport in South Wales. Our Gold buses have been designed with our customers’ needs in mind. We appreciate that on journeys, such as the Blaencwm to Caerphilly service, our customers value the use of free WiFi and USB charging so they may spend their time commuting productively, and welcome greater comfort and more environmentally friendly engine in the latest Euro 6 stop/start technology.

“As part of our Gold service we ensure that each one of our drivers is trained to provide a five star customer service experience. Our team of regular, enthusiastic drivers will help customers, whether it’s their first time travelling by bus or they are a frequent traveller, and the touches of comfort will make a real difference to a more enjoyable as well as productive journey with free wifi and USB charging points”.

To celebrate the official launch today, a new gold liveried bus was on display at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw Campus for learners to view in advance of going into service on Tuesday 12th December. Learners were invited to try out the new bus, Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans commented: “This investment by Stagecoach is very welcome, our learners need good, reliable transport to access the college campuses. Our learners will have access to enhanced facilities which allows them to study as they travel and they will be able to monitor bus times so that they can travel safely and arrive on time.”

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport said: These vehicles represent a significant investment by Stagecoach, the latest of several in the South Wales Valleys in recent years. I am sure passengers will be just as impressed with these new buses as we are.

At Wales’s first annual Bus Industry Summit earlier this year we discussed not only the challenges the bus industry faces now, but also to begin to map out the longer term, sustainable future of what is a vital public service.

We all want a world class, sustainable transport system in Wales. Local bus services make a tremendously important contribution to the fulfilment of our ambitions for local transport and the improvement of air quality.”

Each one of the single deck Stagecoach Gold buses comes with a Euro 6 stop/start engine, environmentally friendlier, designed to cut exhaust emissions. The fleet also runs on a greener mix of up to 30% recycled biofuel and 70% low sulphurdiesel to reduce C02 emissions.

There will be twenty four brand new Stagecoach Gold buses in operation along the 120/130 route which will operate up to every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes and hourly throughout most of the day on Sundays and evenings.

The Stagecoach Gold buses are equipped with low floor access to make it easier for wheelchairs, pushchairs and customers with limited mobility to board. All vehicles can carry a wheelchair safely and drivers are trained and able to provide assistance if required.

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well at Coleg y Cymoedd

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well at Coleg y Cymoedd this year, with over 100 presents being collected for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Santa Appeal.

The College has participated in the Santa Appeal for several years and has once again been overwhelmed by the generosity of staff and learners responding to the appeal.

Julie Rees, Director of Human Resources and co-ordinator of the Appeal at the College said ‘There has been an amazing response from both employees and learners – it’s been fantastic.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has made a donation to the Appeal. Our presents will make a difference to so many children and their families this Christmas – spreading a little magic.

The Appeal provides the opportunity for everyone to get involved, as no matter what the cost of the gift, you know it will bring a smile to the faces of children in situations less fortunate than ours”.

The presents from each campus were collected and stored on the Rhondda campus where they were collected by the Santa Appeal Team from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council; in plenty of time to deliver to the children in time for Christmas.

Christmas can be an especially hard time for families due to low income, social isolation or family breakdown; supporting the Appeal provides relief for the whole family, easing the stress and showing families that someone cares.

Thanking the College, Deputy Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, Tina Leyshon said: “Once again we would like to thank staff and students at Coleg y Cymoedd for their continued support of the Council’s Santa Appeal.

“Last year, more than 2,000 children in Rhondda Cynon Taf who are less fortunate than others, received a present to open on Christmas Day, and will be doing the same again this year.

“That is down to the overwhelming generosity of the public, so thank you Coleg y Cymoedd for helping others at this time of year.”

Coleg y Cymoedd learner wins JG Speedfit Plumbing bursary

John Guest Speedfit is helping to make sure that the future of British plumbing is in safe hands, by sponsoring a talented college learner.

The new sponsorship with Coleg y Cymoedd (Ystrad Mynach campus), home of Wales’ leading Plumbing & Heating course, sees Matthew Sier, a Year 2 learner, win a bursary worth £1,000, to help complete his studies.

Matthew was selected after a fierce competition to find the learner who best demonstrated their commitment to plumbing and had the skills to succeed in the industry.  Lecturers at Coleg y Cymoedd nominated 6 learners who had performed well in Year 1.  The candidates then visited the home of JG Speedfit in West Drayton, answering competency based plumbing questions and being interviewed by a panel of lecturers and JG Speedfit experts.

“I feel grateful towards JG Speedfit for giving me this opportunity. I learned some interesting facts about push-fit plumbing and enjoyed the factory tour, seeing how Speedfit products are manufactured. I had put a lot of hard work into preparing for this day and am totally chuffed about winning it.” says Matthew.

“Matthew will be a fantastic ambassador for young plumbers.  We were impressed by his dedication towards the profession and the technical knowledge he is already demonstrating.  We’re delighted to help him with his studies and look forward to seeing how he gets on,” explains Nigel Sanger, Technical Director at JG Speedfit.

As well as receiving £1,000 per academic year for the remainder of the course, on completion he will also receive a toolbox and workwear from JG Speedfit.

The choice of Coleg y Cymoedd (Ystrad Mynach Campus) reflects JG Speedfit’s close ties with the college, where Nigel Sanger first learned about plumbing and heating.

“I firmly believe that a theoretical understanding of plumbing is vital for the long-term health and profitability of the industry.  We want to create a platform where future talent, like Matthew, can be rewarded and supported for their commitment towards all aspects of plumbing,” says Nigel.

As part of the partnership, JG Speedfit is supplying core-plumbing product to the college, as well as supporting the creation of a room dedicated to JG Speedfit UFH, where students can learn the theoretical and practical elements of underfloor heating installation.

“There are exciting opportunities for the plumbers of the future, especially in underfloor heating, and we want to help them get the best possible education,” adds Nigel.

JG Speedfit is planning to repeat the sponsorship with Coleg y Cymoedd in the 2018/19 academic year and is also looking for partner colleges in other regions of the UK.  Nigel concludes: “We want current Year 1 students to see the example being set by Matthew and aspire to win the JG Speedfit Sponsorship in Year 2.”

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College learners runway creations raise money for HIV awareness charity

A group of our creative learners will see their creations on the runway for a Drag Queen fashion show to raise money and awareness in support of World Aids day.

Nine budding costume construction learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have designed and created extravagant costumes and accessories to be showcased by professional drag queens for the live event taking place on World Aids Day on 1st December at Mary’s bar in Cardiff.

The second-year learners, who are all studying a level 5 foundation degree in Costume Construction for Screen & Stage, were tasked with bringing the drag queens to life for the fundraising event, which was organised in aid of Terrence Higgins Trust – the charity that campaigns to eradicate HIV, empower and support those living with the disease as well as eliminate the stigma and discrimination surrounding the illness.

Inspired by the popular reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, the ‘MaryTacular Fashion show’ saw the outfits modelled and judged by an expert panel, including established Cardiff drag queens Fanny Fierce and Polly Amorous, and artist Nathan Wyburn, who shot to fame on Britain’s Got Talent after creating a portrait of judge Michael McIntyre using Marmite on toast.

Creating everything from sparkling bodices and sequined leotards to flamboyant headdresses and diamante heels, the up-and-coming costume makers from the Nantgarw campus constructed a total of 18 costumes for the fundraising event, with each learner creating two of their very own designs. The winning student will be unveiled on the night.

Iona Duff, 26, one of college learners involved in the show said: “Working on this show has been amazing and we were all excited to see our creations come to life at the live event.

“It’s been a fantastic experience that has been both fun and valuable for our professional development at the same time. Being used to working from set costume designs, having to create my own designs from scratch was a little intimidating and challenging at first, but allowed me to have more freedom to be creative than I would working from a design which was really enjoyable.

“It’s touching to that we are able to use our skills and passion to not only put on a great show, but to also help to raise money for charity.”

The idea behind the project came after course tutors Emma Embling and Caroline Thomas collaborated with former students Hazel May-Elstone, otherwise known as Cardiff drag queen ‘Pom Pom’, and Gordon Tovey, the owner of Mary’s who is passionate about AIDS awareness after losing friends to the disease.

Based at the college’s Nantgarw campus, the two-year specialist costume construction course at Coleg y Cymoedd, which is delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales, introduces learners to the cut and costume construction skills required within the areas of film and theatre.

Throughout the foundation degree, learners work on a variety of live projects to gain real life industry practice of costume design and production to boost their employability.  

Course leader, Emma Embling said: “Our learners will be showcasing some fabulous items on the runway at St Mary’s which will highlight their exceptional talents to members of the public and industry professionals.

“The event is a great opportunity for learners to not only gain some valuable practical experience, which will help them with their future careers, but to also play an active role in making a difference and raising awareness of a really important issue.  

“We’re all really excited for the night, which is set to be an extremely enjoyable night, and we encourage everyone to join us on to celebrate, have fun and raise money for a great cause in the process.”

The event, which is open to the public, took place on Friday 1st December from 7pm at Mary’s bar on St Mary’s Street in Cardiff.

For more information on the Foundation Degree in Costume Construction for Screen and Stage at Coleg y Cymoedd, please visit: /costumeconstruction


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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