Local pillars of the community have been recognised at NPTC Group of Colleges’ annual Graduation and awarded Honorary Fellowships at the ceremony held at Swansea University’s Great Hall.

Students from across NPTC Group of Colleges – one of Wales’ largest colleges, serving the communities of Neath Port Talbot, Powys, Swansea and Bridgend – came together to celebrate their shared success surrounded by friends and family.

As well as offering traditional post-16 A Level and vocational courses, the College is a key provider of adult education and delivers a wide variety of Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates, Foundation Degrees and Degree courses, in partnership with, and as a fully accredited member of the University of South Wales, Trinity Saint David, Glyndŵr University and Swansea University.

Awarded prestigious Honorary Fellowships this year were: local Assembly Member Gwenda Thomas, , Pat Vine, Governor to NPTC Group of Colleges and Justice of the Peace, and High Court Judge Sir Clive Lewis. All were awarded the prestigious honour for Service to the Community.

Past Honorary Fellows include Dr Geraint F Lewis; Ben Davies; Rob Davies; Nichola James; The Right Honourable Lord Hain; Michael Sheen; Dan Lydiate; Olive Newton and Margaret Thorne, as well as Gaynor Richards MBE who was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal in 2012.

Sir Clive Buckland Lewis from Ystalyfera is a judge of the High Court of Justice, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. He was educated at Cwmtawe Community School, Churchill College, Cambridge, and Dalhousie University. Lewis was a lecturer at the University of East Anglia before being called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1987. He was appointed a Recorder in 2003 and was approved to sit as a deputy High Court judge. In 2003, he became a Queen’s Counsel and in June 2013, he was appointed a High Court judge receiving the customary knighthood in the 2014 Special Honours and assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division.

AM Gwenda Thomas is best known for her role as a Welsh Labour Politician, having first been elected to the Assembly in May 1999. During her career as an Assembly Member, she has served as Chair of the Housing Committee, Chair of the Assembly’s Equality of Opportunity Committee, chaired a review into Safeguarding Vulnerable Children in Wales and has been Deputy Minister for Social Services.  Her interests include health, social services, children’s issues, local government and the voluntary sector.

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Justice of the Peace Patricia Vine has been a hardworking Governor in the College since 2013 and is highly regarded for ensuring the student's voice is always heard.  Pat embodies the essence of good citizenship. She served for 12 years as a Cub Scout Leader where she took great pride in ensuring that every scout could swim. She was elected to public office becoming Chair of the Community Council in Cilybebyll and has served for 15 years as a Justice of the Peace, where she sat on the Crown Court of Appeal.

Speaking after the event, all fellows said they were delighted to receive an Honorary Fellowship, but stressed that the highest honour was to share the stage with the real heroes of the day: the students who had worked so hard to graduate.

Proudly graduating in ILM Level 5 Leadership and Management, the College’s Senior Marketing Officer Gemma Smith said “as a single parent, juggling a full-time job alongside my studies, I feel so proud to have graduated today, after two years of hard work and sacrifice.  It just proves that learning is lifelong and is open to anyone. I can’t wait to celebrate with my family who are here with me today”.

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