Coleg y Cymoedd celebrates learner success at their annual awards ceremony

Coleg y Cymoedd honoured the achievements and contributions of its learners at the 2024 Learner Awards on 19th June 2024 at its Nantgarw campus.

The event brought together learners, staff, sponsors, and guests, who praised the winners for their efforts this year.

They enjoyed an acoustic set from college learners and rising stars, The Unknown, and live popcorn and candyfloss making stations.

In total, the college gave out 42 awards in categories such as Community Award and Contribution to College Life. The candidates for each category were nominated by tutors and college support staff, who appreciated the learners’ excellence, dedication, and progress throughout the year and winners were selected by a panel of impartial judges.

The evening was hosted by Amy Williams, a former learner and a first-class graduate from the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Amy, who successfully achieved a Level 3 Performing Arts qualification at Coleg y Cymoedd in 2019, shared her story and accomplishments with the audience, and thanked the college for supporting her goals.

An able compere, Amy read out a statement for each winner as they collected a certificate and prize from the college’s principal, Jonathan Morgan, and the award category’s sponsor.

The two main prizes of the night, the Outstanding Achievement Award and the Overcoming Barriers Award, were chosen by the college’s principal, Jonathan Morgan.

Ethan Sullivan received the Overcoming Barriers Award after surviving a serious accident while studying at the college. Despite his injuries and treatments, Ethan kept up with his work, learned new skills, and excelled in all his assessments, securing an apprenticeship with an electrical company. Ethan is a remarkable learner and an inspiration to everyone.

The second and final Principal’s Award was for Outstanding Achievement, and it was given to Saffron O’Sullivan-Hayball for her valuable contribution to the college’s Open Events, representing A Level Sociology.

Saffron has spoken to parents and learners, answered their questions, and represented the college in an excellent way. Saffron has never missed a lesson or a deadline, is a very hard-working learner, and has consistently shown up despite having several health issues.

In his closing remarks, Jonathan congratulated all on their efforts this year and wished them the best for the future. He thanked the college’s generous sponsors who supported the event and the guests who had attended to share the winners’ special moment.

Congratulations to this year’s Learner Awards winners:

· A Level Award: Saffron O’Sullivan-Hayball

· A Level Science Award: Isabell Pisani

· Business and Finance Award: Tyler Mitchell and Jeffrey John

· Enterprise Award: Ellie Harford

· Childhood Studies Award: Andreea Tataru-peica and Gwenllian Richards-Jones

· Health and Social Care Award: Summer Lavis and Xenia Williams

· Hospitality and Catering Award: Kayla Thomas and Kacey Llewellyn

· Hairdressing and Beauty Award: Bodie Mitchell

· Creative Industries Award: Adeesha Wickramaratne and Sophie Cornelius

· Foundation Learning Award: Tyler Perry and Calin Jones

· Independent Living Skills Award: Dylan Thomas and Riley Troy

· Travel Award: Mia Home

· Air Cabin Crew Award: Grace Evans

· Sports Award: Dylan Scott and Ryan-Lee Thomas

· Construction Award: Ethan Sullivan and Joseph Heycock

· Computing Award: Ryan Jones and Lewis Gasson

· Engineering Award: Iwan Cole and Rhys Weston

· Apprentice Award: Ronan Pellow and Rowan Lyons

· Young Carers Award: Taylorann Gilder

· Higher Education Award: Trisha Fox

· Skills Award: Kelly Bateman

· Numeracy Award: Jenna Newton

· Welsh Award: Luca McAlpine and Tiia Norris-Meade

· Contribution to College Life: Carys Megan-James

· Talented Athlete Award (TASS): Caitlyn Reid-Gordon

· Community Award: Callum Smith

· Overcoming Barriers Award: Ethan Sullivan

· Outstanding Achievement Award: Saffron O’Sullivan-Hayball

Thank you to the sponsors of Coleg y Cymoedd’s 2024 Learner Awards:

Coleg y Cymoedd and Lidl join forces to tackle food waste and hunger

Coleg y Cymoedd has teamed up with supermarket chain Lidl to provide surplus food to learners who are struggling to afford or access food during the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

The college is part of Lidl’s Neighbourly scheme, which connects local charities and community groups with Lidl stores that have excess food to donate.

For the past six weeks, Wellbeing staff from the college’s Rhondda campus collect food from Lidl’s Ferndale store for learners to set up and oversee a stall in the college reception or Mez.

The stall is open to anyone who needs food, with no questions asked or judgement made. The food is free of charge, and even though learners have priority, no staff member in need of food will be turned away empty handed.

The food available varies from week to week, but can include bakery goods, fruit and vegetables, tinned goods and microwave meals.

The initiative has been a success for both the college and Lidl, as well as the environment. The college has been able to support its learners and staff who are facing food insecurity, while also raising awareness of the issue and reducing stigma.

Lidl has been able to reduce its food waste and carbon footprint, while also strengthening its ties with the local community. The environment has benefited from less food going to landfill and more food being consumed.

Two learners who volunteered for the stall as part of their Skills for Further Study course shared their positive experiences. Kelsey Cole, a 20-year-old from Ton Pentre, said she enjoyed meeting other learners from different courses and backgrounds. Chloe Kerlsake, an 18-year-old from Pandy, said the stall helped her boost her confidence and communication skills.

For some learners, the scheme has made a difference not only in their food security, but also in their outlook and wellbeing. One of them expressed their excitement to come to college every Wednesday and discover the variety of food on offer, while another shared how the donations have helped them bond with their family over wholesome meals, such as leek and potato soup that they prepared with the ingredients they received that week.

As a bonus, using any extra or uncooked ingredients, Professional Cookery staff have prepared dishes like mushroom and courgette arancini or soup in the training kitchens to give out to learners as hot, filling meals.

The inspiration behind the project were Wellbeing Officers Carolyn Owen, Caryl Rowlands and Darren O’Connell who saw that the food bank vouchers they gave out had a limited number of uses per year. The team launched the Neighbourly scheme at the college and were amazed by how many learners took advantage of it.

Carolyn said: “We have a strong sense of community at Rhondda campus, and we were thrilled to offer a new kind of support that learners embraced wholeheartedly, even if they usually hesitated to ask for help. When we first set up the stall, we spotted two or three learners hanging back, who now confidently join the queue and welcome us with a big smile.

“There is no shame or judgment involved in this. Learners come to the stand with their friends after classes and take home bread and vegetables for their families – something you don’t see every day. They care about their families, and it opens up positive conversations where we can provide more assistance if needed.”

Lisa Purcell, Assistant Principal for Learner Experience and Deputy DSP for Coleg y Cymoedd added: “At Coleg y Cymoedd we are committed to supporting and promoting the wellbeing of learners and staff and this initiative is just one we have that supports those who are experiencing difficulties.

“Our canteens on each campus donate food at the end of each day that would otherwise be wasted, and we also provided free breakfasts to all staff and learners during the cold winter months.”

Coleg y Cymoedd have published their Wellbeing Strategy for 2023-2026. Read more, here: https://www.cymoedd.ac.uk/learner-support/welfare-wellbeing/

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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