Coleg y Cymoedd Annual Staff Awards 2023

Our annual Staff Awards are an opportunity to recognise the great efforts made by our staff to make Coleg y Cymoedd the best that it can be.

On Monday, 27th March, we held a special ceremony at our Aberdare campus to celebrate this year’s winners.

We’d like to extend our congratulations to them, and to thank all of our 850 employees for their continuing hard work and dedication.


This Year’s Winners:

Gwobr Cymraeg | Welsh Award: Emyr Morgan

Inclusivity Award: ALP Support Team Leaders

Service Excellence Award: Neil Evans

Outstanding Dedication Award: Phil Gorman

Team Achievement Award: (Academic) A Level Centre Coordinators | (Business Support) People and Culture

Teaching and Learning: Cara St.Clair-Robbins

Supporting Learner Wellbeing: Dan Owens

Inspiring Learners: Mark James

Positive Impact: Holly Richards

Outstanding Newcomer Award: Hannah Hallett | Morgan Evans | Sean Morgan-Brewer

Outstanding Leader: (Academic) Lee Davies | (Business Support) Dorian Adkins

Distinguished Employee Award: Nia Wyn-Williams

Principal’s Award: Kelly Howells

Click on our 2023 Staff Awards Recognition programme below, to find a full list of the winners and the reasons for their nominations

Coleg y Cymoedd learners shortlisted for best in the UK at WorldSkills finals

Following Coleg y Cymoedd’s record-breaking success at the 2022 WorldSkills UK awards, three of their talented students have been chosen to make up the national long squad in preparation for the world finals.

Set to take place in Lyon in September 2024, the biennial ‘skills Olympics’ finals will see young people compete to be named as World champion across 27 different disciplines, amongst fierce competition from over 80 countries.

The WorldSkills competitions run at regional, national, and international levels, and use international best practice to raise standards in apprenticeships and technical education, so more young people and employers succeed.

For Coleg y Cymoedd learners, they are an opportunity for them to finesse their skills in their chosen field and increase their chances of future employability.

Each competition stage comprises of practical and scenario-based tasks that are judged by a panel of industry experts. The best-performing participants progress to the next stage of the competition.

The 94-member UK long squad was handpicked from hundreds of national heat medallists, and following an 18-month intensive training programme, final representation will be decided in Spring 2024.

Competitors are already part-way through their training which has been designed to prepare them for the pressures of international competition. So far, Cymoedd learners have benefitted from training camps with support from industry partners such as Powerserv Ltd, and Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales. On the weekend of the 25th March 2023, they will begin the first of four WorldSkills UK bootcamps.

There, they will benefit from coaching by sector champions and former medallists to develop their technical and mindset skills in the hopes of being selected for the final UK squad in their respective fields.

Speaking of the learners’ achievements, Enterprise, Skills & Employability Coordinator for Coleg y Cymoedd, Matthew Watts, commented: “Our three learners have already achieved so much in their specialism, they are a credit to Coleg y Cymoedd and we are extremely proud.

We are doing everything possible to facilitate them achieving that last step, by competing at the elite level of skills competitions. It’s a challenging, but also very exciting journey ahead with experiences that they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives.”

The competitors have been supported by their course tutors and the college’s Futures team: a department dedicated to learners’ success once they leave college. This could be through employment, enterprise or higher education. The competition process has involved coordinating training camps, mentorships, and trips across the UK.

Meet Coleg y Cymoedd’s WorldSkills UK longsquad members:

Ruben Duggan

•             Tutor – Lee Parry, Construction.

•             Award – Gold in the WorldSkills UK Plumbing competition.

“I have found WorldSkills competitions to be challenging but very rewarding. I’m looking forward to the bootcamp: it’s a very exciting opportunity and a chance to further improve my skills.”

Cole Peters

•             Tutor – Phil Gorman, IT.

•             Award – Gold in the WorldSkills UK Network System Administrator – Communication Technologies competition.

“During the previous WorldSkills UK cycle I found areas that I felt I could improve on further. I am pleased to have worked on these with my tutor, Phil Gorman, and the college’s Senior IT Support Officer, Darren Whitehead. I am very grateful for their support as I enter the next stage of my WorldSkills journey.”

Kaleb Szymanski

•             Tutors – Stephen Manning & James Neal, Engineering.

•             Award – Highly Commended in the WorldSkills UK Aircraft Maintenance competition.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the training so far. It’s helped me improve lots – in particular my time management when competing and understanding the marking criteria for different tasks. It’s been good preparation for the stages to come.”

To find out more about WorldSkills competitions, visit: WorldSkills UK | Raising Apprenticeships & Technical Education Standards

College learners take on Three Peaks Challenge in honour of beloved tutor

Six friends studying at a South Wales college are set to tackle the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in honour of their course tutor, who has recently lost loved ones to heart conditions.

Coleg y Cymoedd learners Josh Evans (21), Cameron Williams (24), Josh Thomas (21), Iwan Sheridan (22), Haydn Dummett (20), and Joe Laver (21), are set to complete the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge next month, which will see them walk a total of 17 miles and climb 7,657ft as they take on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Cadar Idris, and Pen y Fan all within the space of 24 hours.

The learners were inspired to take part in the challenge by their engineering tutor of four years, Neil Meredith, who sadly lost his sister and father to heart related illnesses. The group hopes to raise awareness of the 340,000 people in Wales who are affected by heart and circulatory diseases and has already almost doubled their £700 fundraising goal.

Having helped the six learners through their engineering qualifications over the last few years, from their initial level 3 Electrical and Electronic Engineering BTECs in 2019, to their current HNC qualifications and apprenticeships with Coleg y Cymoedd delivery partners Transport for Wales, Nexperia Newport, and Cytiva, Neil has been an invaluable mentor and source of support to the friends.

Cameron Williams, who originally came up with the idea of taking part in the fundraiser, said: “Neil has been more than just an academic tutor to us. He has always been so supportive, both on a personal and professional level, throughout our time at the college and has made a huge impact on our future careers. This is our way of showing how grateful we are and we are passionate about raising some money that will help others like Neil’s sister and father in the future.”

Having always enjoyed hiking together, the learners felt this was the perfect way to express their thanks to Neil. The six friends have been preparing for the challenge since February, keeping their fitness up with cycling, running, and walking as well as checking in on each other’s training progress and building some healthy competition to ensure they’re ready for the expedition. 

Joe added: “Completing this challenge is going to be hard, so it’s important that we all cheer each other on, and push each other to make sure we’re training as much as we can to achieve our goal. We’re looking forward to getting to the top of Pen y Fan at the end of the day, cracking open a cold beer and toasting to Neil, his sister and his father, as well as all the people that will be helped by the money we raise.”

Neil, who’s been an engineering lecturer at Coley y Cymoedd for four years, has been overwhelmed by the support from the group and those donating to the fundraiser.

He said: “It’s been a privilege to be part of the boys’ education over the past few years. It’s been great to see them develop and enhance their engineering roles. I am blown away that they want to dedicate their three peaks challenge to the loss of my sister, Helen Meredith, while raising money for the British Heart Foundation. The whole family appreciates their support.”

The British Heart Foundation state that one in four people will die of heart and circulatory diseases in South Wales. Carys Jenkins, fundraising Manger at The British Heart Foundation in Southeast Wales said: “We’re so grateful to the team at Coleg y Cymoedd for setting themselves the challenge of completing the Welsh Three Peaks and choosing to support BHF Cymru.

The charity’s pioneering and life-changing research into heart and circulatory issues is funded entirely by the public and supporters like them, so we couldn’t do what we do without them.  If this inspires one more person to take on a similar challenge and fundraise for BHF Cymru, it all helps to make a difference for families in Wales.”

To  follow the group’s journey across the mountains of Wales on the 22nd April 2023 and to donate, visit the learner’s GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/e7942c20

Skills Competitions Wales 2023 – Coleg y Cymoedd Awards Night

On the evening of Thursday, 9th March, Coleg y Cymoedd celebrated the success of 72 of their learners who had taken part in the 2022/23 Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales (ISE) competitions.

In a special invite-only event that took place at their Nantgarw campus, nearly 200 learners, staff, their family members and friends enjoyed a hot-buffet and music before gathering to watch a live-stream of the results being announced.

The evening opened with a dedication from Principal, Jonathan Morgan, before Cymoedd winners were presented their certificates as they were named in real time from the ISE base.

Also in attendance were 10 learners who had been successful in the 2021/22 WorldSkills UK championship. They were welcomed with a round-of-applause and gift vouchers to congratulate them on their achievements, as were eight Catering students who recently swept the board at the Welsh International Culinary Championship, 2023.

Funded by the Welsh Government, Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales deliver a programme of activities that raise awareness of vocational career pathways that will contribute towards the country’s future economic growth.

In partnership with colleges and worked-based learning providers, the ISE’s annual competitions challenge students aged 16-plus to raise their skills as they compete across a range of sectors, from Popular Music to Cyber Security.

Coleg y Cymoedd were chosen to host the Inclusive Catering, Aerospace, and the Manufacturing Team Challenge in January this year, and welcomed entrants from Further Education and training institutions across Wales to take part.

The days were met with an impressive turnout and showcased some of the college’s excellent facilities.

Commenting on the opportunities presented by ISE, Futures Lead for Recruitment and Progression, Libby Morgan, said: “We’re so proud of our learners who took part in Skills competitions this year. We always encourage their participation as competitors experience a huge boost to their confidence and majorly enhance their CVs.

It’s a joy to watch them grow and to see them go onto great things when they leave college, whether that’s straight into employment in their chosen sector, or by starting their own business.”

Speaking of the learners’ achievements, Enterprise, Skills & Employability Coordinator for Coleg y Cymoedd, Matthew Watts, commented: “I’d like to thank our staff members who helped make this year’s competitions happen, some of whom coordinated trips across Wales to support participating learners.

Not only this, but we were blown away by the organisational skills of our Campus Services, Health and Safety and Estates departments, who worked to the wire to ensure that we could host events on site. We even had three staff members who were judges in this cycle.

We’re so grateful for the time and effort they put in. The amazing number of certificates received by Cymoedd tonight is a testament to their dedication.”

Coleg y Cymoedd would like to extend congratulations to all of their winners and students who took part in this year’s Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales competition

Culinary Arts

Abbie Williams – Gold

Popular Music

Evan Davies – Bronze

Toby King – Bronze

Faith Williams – Bronze

Alice Wilson – Bronze

Coding

Luke Mears Boswell – Bronze

Photography

Tyler Whitney – Silver

Morag Moore – Bronze

Plumbing and Heating

Luke Evans – Gold

Manufacturing Team Challenge

Lloyd Lawrence – Bronze

Georgia Price – Bronze

Patisserie & Confectionery

Mali Leese – Silver

Cyber Security

James Smee – Gold

Callum Payne – Gold

Inclusive Skills: Woodwork

Freddy Dragotta – Gold

Owen Davies – Silver

Kurt Richards – Silver

Callum Harvey – Bronze

Inclusive Skills: Fitness Assistant

Madeline Ashford – Gold

Inclusive Skills: Media

Halen Cusak – Gold

Logan Davies – Gold

Ethan Robinson – Gold

IT Support Technician

Sebastian Archer – Bronze

Three Coleg y Cymoedd learners’ business dreams become a reality thanks to entrepreneurship programme

Three Coleg y Cymoedd learners are one step closer to fulfilling their business dreams after securing a place on this year’s Tafflab programme – a project dedicated to supporting young people in Wales to set up their own companies.

Finn Johnson-Denny, (16), Dawn Thomas, (46) and Dewi Thomas, (19) have been selected from an impressive cohort to land a spot on the programme. They will now work directly with business mentors after receiving a financial grant to help launch their businesses and turn their ideas into a reality.

Established in 2014, the Tafflab project works to support the next generation of entrepreneurs from three FE colleges in the South Wales valleys – Coleg y Cymoedd, Merthyr College and Coleg Gwent – to set up and successfully run their own businesses. Mentors on the programme are successful entrepreneurs or business leaders themselves, and a maximum of three learners from each college are chosen for the scheme following a competitive internal application process which sees learners submit their business ideas and take part in interviews.

Alongside frequent individual mentoring meetings, the learners will also attend three group seminars throughout the year-long programme which will cover topics including branding, marketing and finance. Led by leading businesspeople and previous Tafflab alumni, the sessions are designed to help enrich their understanding of business planning and setup.

Level 3 Business learner, Finn Johnson-Denny, is one of the Coleg y Cymoedd learners selected for the programme and will now kickstart his website design and management company, FJD Design & Management.  

He said: “Tafflab has not only provided me with funding that will be invaluable in helping me to get my business off the ground, but it has also opened me up to amazing mentorship from people with decades of business experience.

“Their support is enabling me to properly understand the key elements of business planning and has built my confidence in the areas I’m not so familiar with. I’d already been trading for a few months before I joined the Tafflab programme, and it’s just accelerated my progression to an extent that wouldn’t have been possible without it.”

Also taking part in the programme is Dewi Thomas, a Level 3 Computing and Information Technology  learner who is receiving support to set up his furniture upcycling business, Commons Oak, and Dawn Thomas, a Level 3 Reflexology learner and the woman behind Mind & Body Consultancy – a wellness and holistic services company that offers holistic therapy and reflexology.

Speaking about the programme, Dewi said: “The mentoring I’ve received through Tafflab has helped me to prioritise and focus on what’s most important when it comes to setting up and running a business. It has provided me with the skills I need to further develop my idea into a successful company.”

Dawn added: “Being part of this programme has given me the opportunity to connect with previous members of the Tafflab cohort who understand my position, having gone through it themselves. Their insights and experiences have been really helpful, and it has been amazing seeing their positivity and support as they have championed my new businesses.”

CEO of Tafflab, Rodric Ashley, who has been working as a mentor with Tafflab since 2015 and took over the programme coordination from founder Dr. Kathy Seddon in the summer of 2022, said: “It’s really exciting to see so many creative and enthusiastic learners come through the Tafflab programme with such a keen interest in entrepreneurship and business management.

“The programme allows hopeful business owners to grow in strength, confidence, and stature, through exceptional mentoring by experienced and successful businesspeople. I look forward to seeing Finn, Dawn, and Dewi grow their businesses and skills over the coming months.”

The Tafflab programme is an annual programme, with applications opening every November. Learners can apply from any stage of their business development, whether that’s an initial idea or a current and fully operational business. For more information, visit: https://tafflab.org/ 

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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