Cymoedd celebrate Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Over thirty Cymoedd learners were presented with their Duke of Edinburgh Awards at a special ceremony to mark the occasion. Assistant Principal Karen Workman attended the celebration at the Nantgarw campus to congratulate the learners and present them with their certificates and badges. The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award provides an opportunity for young people, aged 14 -25 years to experience challenge and adventure and acquire new skills.

This has been an amazing year for the college with excellent outcomes; three groups of Duke of Edinburgh Award learners from the Pathway 2, Life Skills and Independence Entry Levels 1 and 2 and Sport and Public Service, Foundation E3 courses, all achieved their full Award.

On May 25th the first group to embark on their Challenge was the Silver Group. The mixed group set off on their first walk of the weekend from the Wetland Centre, Llanelli to Cae Mawr in the Swiss Valley. After a nights camping they set off on Day 2 to tackle the long walk to Pembrey and Day 3 involved the exploration of Pembrey Park to include the historical aspects too.

Following the success of the Silver Group in May, on June 15th the first Bronze Group set off on their two-day expedition from Sandy Water Park, Llanelli to Pembrey, with the second Bronze Group following in their footsteps on June 22nd.

Speaking about the Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme and the success of Cymoedd learners, Karen said, “The college is delighted with the increased participation and proud of the learners who have completed the Awards.

Vocational Access learners, attend the college with all sorts of daily challenges and hurdles to overcome, they then follow a curriculum with additional challenges to help them become more independent. The Duke of Edinburgh Award adds a little more challenge because the learners are then out of their comfort zone and normality. The challenges they face include walking independently, map reading or hand-railing and camping out over a night or two! They also have to cook for themselves using a Trangia and of course, they have to work as part of a team to help each other achieve the Award as a team”.

To ensure the Programme has the best outcome for the learners, following the expeditions the learners spend time discussing their experiences and what they enjoyed or not, what could be improved next time and most importantly what they had learnt about themselves. Some of the comments from this year’s cohort included “I didn’t realise I could dig so deep, I was not going to give up” (Evan) and “I have never seen the night sky, the stars were amazing” (Thomas). A clear message from all learners was how they had worked together as a team when they were under pressure.

Coleg y Cymoedd launches college gaming team

Coleg y Cymoedd has set up a new gaming team to provide learners with the opportunity to develop their skills and compete against other schools and colleges from across the country in national competitions.

Following the increasing popularity of gaming during the pandemic lockdowns, and with continually growing interest in related qualifications at the college, a dedicated gaming team, named the ‘Crusaders’, has been launched.

Based out of the college’s new gaming department in Aberdare, the team will be made up of learners currently studying at the campus.

They will take part in regular practice sessions and live streaming events, both at the college and from home, with plans to enter a variety of nationwide competitions and leagues once the team has grown including the British E-sports Champs – a series of competitive gaming challenges involving over 60 colleges from across the UK.

The opportunity will benefit learners that have a passion for gaming, helping them to improve their skills and take their interests to the next level.

The team is currently open to all learners at the Aberdare campus, with plans for it to be opened up to other campuses in the future to allow any learners with an interest in gaming to take part.

Steve Hunt, IT and Gaming lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, helped to develop, the team, which is currently made up of five learners who play online games together such as Valorant, FIFA and Fortnite. Looking ahead, Steve intends to expand the number of games covered by the team so that it will play a large range of different types in the future, both online and offline.

Steve said: “I decided to create the Crusaders team at Coleg y Cymoedd as I thought it could be something that all the campuses could get involved with, giving them an extracurricular activity to enjoy alongside their studies. With many gaming tournaments out there, there are a lot of exciting prospects for learners on the team. There is always room for expansion and so far, the learners are loving it!

“My hope is that this will become a centre of excellence for esports gaming and content creation, encompassing learners from all campuses. It will be a place for learners who are interested in esports to be supported, with the use of our gaming room as a training facility and through live streaming and broadcasting events.”

The Crusaders team will provide an additional learning experience for learners on the Level 3 Games Development and IT courses at Ystrad Mynach and Aberdare, which have seen a rise in learners. The course teaches learners how to come up with and develop games as well as how to present and pitch ideas. Learners develop skills that can be applied to real-world jobs such as professional gaming, game development, marketing, TV production, sponsorships and IT.

Learners on the team will wear jerseys featuring big name industry sponsors like, HyperX, Razorwire Energy, Buzz Sweets and the Gamers Beat Cancer charity. 

If you would like to get involved within the gaming team, please

Cymoedd learners produce eye-catching mural with local artist

Following on from the success of the Welsh-themed mural project at the college’s Nantgarw campus earlier in the year, the college invited Siôn Tomos Owen – artist and TV presenter from Treorchy, back to the college to work with another group of learners, this time on the Rhondda campus.

The project, sponsored by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol is part of a wider aim to promote the Welsh language across FE colleges, encouraging learners to develop their Welsh language skills.

The learners studying on the Pathways 3 course at the campus worked with Siôn through a six week series of bilingual workshops, to develop a mural for the external façade of its Colliery 19 restaurant.

During the workshops the budding artists shared their ideas to create a mural that reflected the heritage of the area and was in-keeping with the Colliery 19 theme, as requested by the Hospitality & Catering department. Once complete the finished mural would take pride of place on the exterior wall of the restaurant to be enjoyed by staff, learners, visitors and the community.

Inspired by Siôn, the learners were keen to discuss their thoughts on what Wales and the Welsh language meant to them and how they would portray that in their mural. Their ideas soon materialised into a colourful, thought provoking images. These images were then used by Siôn to create a bold digital piece depicting ‘Man through the ages’ – with an emphasis on moving away from the traditional employment associated with the area towards a bright future in vocational pathways such as catering and hospitality.

Lois Roberts, Welsh Language Manager at Coleg y Cymoedd remarked: The finished mural on the restaurant building looks amazing. The Pathways 3 learners have worked so hard to produce works of art that really captures the Welshness of the local area and how that relates to their own lives. Thank you so much to Siôn for creating such an iconic piece of art and thank you to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol for funding the project.

Speaking about the project, Siôn said: “I was delighted to return to Coleg y Cymoedd to work with the group on the Rhondda campus. I enjoy working with learners on developing murals and the Rhondda learners have been keen to learn new skills to portray their ideas. I’s been an interesting project and I’m delighted with their finished work. I hope the learners are proud of what they have achieved”.

Dysgwr Coleg y Cymoedd yn nofio dros Gymru

Dewiswyd dysgwr Busnes a Chyllid Coleg y Cymoedd, Rebecca Lewis, i gynrychioli Cymru fel rhan o’r Tîm Para Nofio yng Ngemau’r Gymanwlad, a gynhelir ym Mirmingham rhwng 28 Gorffennaf a 8 Awst 2022.

Mae Rebecca, o Bentre’r Eglwys, yn astudio’r cwrs AAT Cyfrifeg ar gampws Nantgarw Coleg y Cymoedd a bydd yn ymuno â’r garfan yn ddiweddarach y mis hwn, ac yn cystadlu yn ei ras ar 2 Awst 2022.

Wrth longyfarch Rebecca ar gael ei dewis, dywedodd tiwtoriaid a chyd-fyfyrwyr Rebecca: “Mae Tîm AAT a chyd-fyfyrwyr Rebecca yn falch iawn o’i chyflawniad. Mae hi wedi gweithio mor galed i fod yn rhan o’r Tîm. Mae pawb yng Ngholeg y Cymoedd yn dymuno pob lwc i Rebecca yng Ngemau’r Gymanwlad – Cer Amdani Becky!!’

Cymoedd’s learner to swim for Wales

Cymoedd Business and Finance learner Rebecca Lewis has been selected to represent Wales as part of the Para Swimming Team at the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Birmingham from July 28 – August 8 2022.

Rebecca, from Church Village is studying AAT Accounting at Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus and will join the squad later this month, and compete in her race on August 2 2022.

Congratulating Rebecca on her selection, Rebecca’s tutors and classmates said “The AAT Team and Rebecca’s classmates are very proud of her achievement. She has worked so hard to be part of the Team. Everyone at Cymoedd wish Rebecca, the Best of Luck at the Commonwealth Games – Go Becky!!’

Plumbing star Ruben Duggan becomes WorldSkills UK finalist

Talented plumbing apprentice, Ruben Duggan, 20, has made it through to the national finals of this year’s WorldSkills UK competition.  

Ruben, who is currently studying an NVQ Level 3 plumbing diploma at Coleg y Cymoedd, has been announced as one of eight finalists who will compete in the competition’s plumbing category at Middlesbrough College in November.

WorldSkills UK is a national competition-based development programme which sees learners from across the country put their skills to the test and compete in a variety of challenges based around their chosen skillset. From bricklaying and engineering, to accountancy, hairdressing and IT, over 50 categories are covered, with each one consisting of a mix of technical and educational skills aimed at showcasing best practice within the field.

Competitors who impress during the finals will be in with chance of representing the UK in the Skills Olympics in France in 2024.

Ruben secured his place after beating 14 other competitors to win the Welsh regional title at Cardiff and Vale College in May. His success comes after he was also crowned the UK’s top plumbing apprentice at the 2022 HIP Apprentice of the Year competition earlier this year.

Speaking about the achievements, Lee Perry, plumbing lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “This is the first time we have ever seen a plumbing learner get this far in a World Skills competition. It is really impressive and an unbelievable achievement for both Ruben and the college. Ruben has a whole host of achievements to his name, having won a string of competitions including, most recently, the HIP Plumbing Apprentices of the Year, which is testament to his hard work and remarkable level of skill.  We can’t wait to see what else Ruben can achieve.”

Ruben will be joined by 10 other Coleg y Cymoedd learners who have also made the finals of the competition in the following categories: Jacob Smith and Matthew Lawrence (Cyber Security); Shaun Bennett, Kaleb Szymanski, Bence Kormos and Cameron Forbes (Aircraft Maintenance); Ella Johnson (Foundation Skills: Catering); Zack Morris, Lewis Hart, Cole Peters (Network Systems – Administrator).

Over 500 people from across the UK will take part in the national finals, competition for gold, silver and bronze prizes in each category. The finals will take place in venues across the four corners of the UK throughout November.

For more information, visit:

Cymoedd celebrate learner success

Coleg y Cymoedd celebrated the amazing achievements of its learners at the recent Annual Awards Ceremony, held at the college’s Nantgarw campus.

Principal, Karen Phillips welcomed the guests and congratulated the learners on being nominated for an Award from over 10,000 learners. She also recognised the support of family and friends and thanked the tutors who nominated their learners and played a big part in supporting them.

The college was delighted to welcome back one of its alumni, Amy Williams; a former Performing Arts learner at the Rhondda campus who is now studying at Italia Conti, London. Amy ably compered the event – firstly introducing guest speaker Rugby Analyst, Sean Holley.

Sean’s motivational address to the learners, guests and staff was well received, he touched on some of his personal life experiences which have shaped his career. His closing message to all was “Do the things you enjoy in life”.

Members of the Senior Leadership Team introduced the Award Winners with over 50 learners from across all faculties receiving their Award from guest speaker Sean Holley and category sponsors. Awards were also presented to learners for their ‘Contribution to College Life’ and ‘Welsh Language’.

There was a break in the presentation of awards for the evening’s entertainment –an enjoyable and professional performance by Performing Arts learners. The learners performed some extracts from their end of year show musical – ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

The final awards, Outstanding Achievements and Overcoming Barriers were selected by the Principal from the 50+ Award Winners.

The Overcoming Barriers Award is presented to the learner who has overcome barriers during their course, yet still achieved their qualification. This award was presented to Childhood Studies learner Molly May Francis, studying at the Ystrad Mynach campus.

Josie Wheeler was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of her achievements whilst studying at the college. Earlier in the year, Josie, a Hospitality & Catering learner at the Nantgarw campus won the UK Student Pastry Chef of the Year.

Bringing the evening to a close, the Principal thanked everyone for attending the event and congratulated the learners on their achievements. She wished them every success for the future and hoped that the college had played a part in their future.

The Principal thanked the Hospitality and Catering learners, who supported by staff, provided the range of delicious light refreshments, enjoyed on arrival to the event.

She also thanked Sean Holley for his inspirational talk, those involved with the event and recognised the generous support of the sponsors, Agored Cymru, Castell Howell Foods, Credwch Ltd., Dovetail Slate, Inferno Fire Safety & Security Solutions Ltd., Ligtas, Mott Macdonald, Protech Rail Engineering, Talent HR Consulting Ltd, The Publicity Centre, Tom Wilcox bequest Fund, VTCT.

Reflexology learner sets up her own business thanks to help from Tafflab

A Coleg y Cymoedd learner who has dreamed of being her own boss for years is set to achieve her goals as she prepares to open her own business next month thanks to support from the college and Tafflab project.  

Hayley Humphries, 54, is due to open her own reflexology studio, Ty Adweitheg Reflexology Therapies, after mentoring from the project inspired her to take the plunge and follow her dreams.

Following a 21-year career in nursing, Hayley decided it was time for a change in direction, choosing to swap her high-pressured job to pursue a more relaxing route in reflexology – something she had long been interested in.

In 2021, she left her role as a children’s nurse and started a Level 3 Reflexology course at Coleg y Cymoedd. Noticing her passion for the therapy and seeing her interest in entrepreneurship, towards the end of her first term, Hayley’s tutor, Hayley Hunt, put her in touch with the college’s events and international partnerships team to help her explore her options.

Hayley was then referred on to Tafflab, a charity-funded organisation that helps aspiring entrepreneurs from FE colleges in the South Wales valleys to fulfil their business dreams. Learners admitted onto the programme receive mentoring from successful local business owners, who provide them with encouragement, support and advice on their next steps.

After presenting an impressive business case, Hayley was selected to join the Tafflab cohort in January 2022.

Through Tafflab, Hayley received advice on all areas relating to setting up a business including guidance on how to apply for financial grants, write business plans, conduct competitor research, ensure her services meet compliance requirements, develop a website and market her new business.

Speaking about her new business and the support she has received, Hayley said: “I enjoyed my time as a children’s nurse, it was extremely rewarding and I was very proud of the roles I played throughout my career, it was also incredibly stressful and it was hard to see things that devastated me every day. I loved working with people so I thought about other ways that I could still do that. I was keen to do something that relieves people of their stress while relieving mine which made me think about reflexology in – something I have always had an interest in.

“My confidence has grown ten-fold over the last year because Tafflab placed their belief in me. I am so excited to be turning a long-standing dream of mine into a reality.”

As part of her next steps., Hayley has secured a purpose build garden space room which she will use as the base for her business. Looking ahead, Hayley plans to enrol on two part-time evening courses in Indian head massage and aromatherapy alongside her business, so that she will be able to expand the treatments she is able to offer to her future clients.

Following the success of her business journey, Hayley has also been asked to work with Tafflab as a new business mentor for next year’s cohort to help with their Tafflab journey.

Ty Adweitheg Reflexology Therapies will open on the 1st of September. For more information visit:


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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