Cardiff and Vale College Celebrates Student Success at Annual Awards Ceremony

awardsCardiff and Vale College has showcased the hard work and success of its learners with a glittering awards evening – with more winners than ever before celebrated at its City Centre Campus.

Hundreds of attendees from across the spectrum of local business, education providers and the community came to the lavish event where 24 students plus the College’s partner organisations were recognised for their efforts and contribution to College life.

Award winners and their guests were treated to a drinks reception with delicious bowl food in the fifth floor restaurant, The Classroom, while the College’s partners from the worlds of business and education held a networking event in the City Centre Campus Business Centre. Entertainment was on hand from student musicians and a close-up magician wowed guests with his tricks.

The ceremony itself was held in the stunning surroundings of the City Centre Campus Atrium and was hosted by Scrum V presenter Ross Harries. Celebrating the achievements of the 2015-16 academic year [see full list of winners below], the awards also illustrate the benefits of choosing a Further Education college such as CAVC.

All of the students recognised on the evening have either won awards in their disciplines, progressed on to university courses, the next level at College or within their careers. Two of them – Aerospace winner Matthew Griffiths and Automotive winner Michael Scaccia – will be among the first cohort of specialist workers at Aston Martin’s luxury car factory in St Athan when it opens in 2018.

CAVC Principal and Chief Executive Mike James said: “I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of our award winners. It has been fantastic to celebrate all of their achievements.

“I feel this year’s awards event has been the best one we have had so far. Some of the stories we have heard have been just inspirational – stories like these make me feel really excited and inspired to come back to the College every morning and work hard to support my community.”

Winners included Capital FM DJ Polly James, who won the College’s Alumni Award. Unable to attend, Polly sent a special video to say thank you and her breakfast show co-host Matt Lissack collected the award on her behalf.

A Level student Ben Thomas won the award for Contribution to College Life. An Under 18 Cardiff Blues squad member who has already represented Wales four times at U18, 17-year-old Ben is a keen contributor to the College’s Rugby Academy who carries out his buddy duties with first year students with passion. Ben attends all training sessions to show he is part of the team despite the fact that WRU restrictions mean he cannot always take part.

The Principal’s Award for the student who best reflects the College’s values either through achievement, attitude of participation in extracurricular activities went to Lauretta Hughes.

Lauretta had made the tough decision to return to education after taking time out to raise a family. Deciding upon a career in nursing she took an Access to Higher Education course at CAVC and achieved exceptionally high distinctions, progressing on to Cardiff University – her commitment and her dedication and support for colleagues has been outstanding. Lauretta also won the College’s Health and Care Award.

“I haven’t the words to explain how I feel – I am just totally overwhelmed!” Lauretta said. “To be picked for the Principal’s Award out of 20,000 students is unbelievable – I was very happy to win one award but to win two is amazing.

“It’s been a brilliant evening as well – all of the other winners have all done so fantastically well.”

Nadia Hadjali won the Hair and Beauty Award. Crowned UK Student of the Year by the Hairdressing Council, Nadia practises tirelessly to improve her practical skills which is shown in her work and client feedback. Nadia, who lives in Barry, is requested frequently by clients at the College’s urbasba Academi salon on Colcot Road due to her hairdressing and excellent customer service skills.

“It’s really good to win this award,” Nadia said. “I didn’t know about the awards and I came back from my holidays to find a letter saying I’d won, so it was really surprising.

“I’m still at the College and I am doing my Level 3 course now – I really enjoy it and don’t ever want to stop learning. Every day I am learning new things and I am happy to improve my skills so it couldn’t be better. I want to open my own business after I finally leave the College.”

The Foundation Studies Award went to Sean Ball. Twenty-one-year-old Sean from Cardiff joined the College as a Horizon student, taking up a Course Rep role which gave him confidence and allowed him to help his peers.

Sean then moved to the Vocational Access course and was the only one on his course to finish the year with highest possible grades. He has now progressed on the mainstream Level 1 IT course.

“I’m excited, enjoying myself, happy and intrigued,” Sean said about winning the award. “I have only been coming in to the College and doing my work – I just come in to learn so I was not expecting to win this at all. I didn’t expect it but it was nice when it happened.

“I’m studying Level 1 IT now and I am enjoying it. I’d probably like to be a graphic designer but that’s a long way away. Something else might come up while I’m gaining the qualifications I need.”

Daniel Declaire won the Construction Award. The 26-year-old from Penarth had been working as lead specialist on listed buildings when he decided upon carpentry as a career change. Having secured a job with local firm Arnold Building and Carpentry, after six months he applied to CAVC as an apprentice and has shown exceptional determination and aptitude from day one.

“I’m over the moon – it’s good and I’m really happy to win this award,” Daniel said. “The company I work for has had two apprentices over the last six years so when the opportunity came up I got quite competitive as I really wanted to take this route. It’s been really good – I was lucky to have very good tutor in my first year and then to have another really good tutor in my second. Hopefully I’ll have another really good tutor in my third year and I can come back and win another award next year!”

This year the College’s judges decided there could be no single winner of the Hospitality and Tourism Award so it went to two students: Cavell Beer and Megan Flanaghan. Students at the College’s Glamorgan Suite restaurant in Barry, school friends Cavell and Megan were instrumental in the Hospitality students raising more than £4,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust and Help for Heroes through a series of charity events this year.

Having joined CAVC in the lowest group and quickly advanced to the highest, Cavell also represented the College at the Future Chef competition, Welsh Institute of Hospitality and WorldSkills. Megan organised events and inspired her fellow students to play an active role in them, once even turning down an opportunity to meet the Queen telling her boss ‘Chef is more important as she signs off my qualifications. The Queen is just a customer to me’.

Megan, who is 19 and from Cardiff, said: “Winning this award is amazing – after three long hard years at College it’s nice to get something back in recognition of what you’ve done.

“College has been really good. I was debating whether to study in sixth form or go to college and coming to Cardiff and Vale College has been the best decision I have ever made. The tutors are like your family – they will help you with your problems. Not just problems with your coursework, but with any problems you might have. I’m so glad I came to College.

“At the moment I am working in hospitality. The College really helped me – I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the qualification I gained from the College and support I had from the tutors.”

Cavell, also 19 and from Cardiff, added: “I feel quite privileged and proud and blessed that my course tutor Joyce nominated me for the award. The evening is going well and I’m enjoying it.

“I have really enjoyed my time at the College – I enjoyed it so much I’m coming back to do my PGCE. Hopefully I will come back and teach in the department where I was studying because all of the staff are so friendly and very family-orientated.”

This year’s Higher Education Award went to Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching and Performance student Rebecca Rees. Rebecca, 33 and from Barry, began at CAVC on a Level 2 course then progressed on to Level 3 and then the Foundation Degree.

Having achieved a Distinction on her FD this year, Rebecca has now progress to the University of South Wales for her third top-up year and is expected to achieve a high classification. She has achieved all of this while bringing up a family and overcoming personal health concerns without a single complaint.

“I’m totally shocked,” Rebecca said. “I didn’t even know the awards existed so it was a nice surprise.

“I’ve completed the Foundation Degree and I’m now doing the top up year to finish with Bachelor Honours. I’ve spent four years here in the College and I’ve come through and loved it – I was really sad to leave. I’m hoping to come back next September to do my PGCE – I can’t keep away.”

College partner organisations Cardiff Blues, City of Cardiff Council, Celtic Manor, the Principality Building Society and wales and West Utilities were also celebrated for their innovative approaches to work-based learning and efforts on behalf of the College in giving students the best possible start in life.


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