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NPTC Group of Colleges Graduation Honours

More than 300 graduates from NPTC Group of Colleges donned their caps and gowns at a special ceremony where they were joined by honorary fellows James Hook and Dr Gaynor Richards MBE DL.

It was the first formal graduation ceremony held in three years, where the cohorts of students from 2020-2022 finally got their moment in the spotlight in front of lecturers, family, friends and dignitaries before becoming new members of the College’s Alumni

The ceremony, which was held at Swansea Arena, reflected the partnerships the College has with the University of South Wales, the University of Wales Trinity St David and Glyndŵr University which allows it to offer university-level programmes including higher national certificates, higher national diplomas, foundation degrees, degrees and internationally accepted qualifications.

Former College alumni and rugby professional James Hook joined graduates on the stage to receive his honorary fellowship. James grew up playing schoolboy and club rugby in Port Talbot before progressing to Neath College where he represented the College at fly half. He had a glittering career with Neath RFC, Ospreys, Perpignan, Gloucester, Wales, the British & Irish Lions and the Barbarians. He said he was delighted to receive the honour and his message to the newly awarded graduates was to aim high “and set your own bar’, he said.

Dr Gaynor Richards MBE DL, who is the Director of Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Service was also awarded an honorary fellowship. For more than a decade Gaynor was Chair of Governors at the College from 2011 to 2021, overseeing the merger of Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Powys.  In 2012, she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of her significant contribution to the College.  Gaynor continues to play a leading role in developing the participation of voluntary organisations, community groups and individuals in the voluntary sector. Her contributions have influenced change in the areas of Early Years, Education, Health, Community Resilience and Employability. Her achievements and accolades are many and include setting up the first Independent Childcare Social Enterprise in Wales; she is a member of the Independent Commission to review the Assembly’s Voluntary Sector Scheme; the Welsh Assembly’s Social Enterprise Working Group; Swansea Bay University Health Board; Children and Young People’s Champion and the Welsh Language Champion. Her awards include an MBE for outstanding services to the Voluntary and Community sector; an Honorary Doctor of Law (LLD Hon) from Swansea University; being appointed Deputy Lieutenant of West Glamorgan and High Sheriff of West Glamorgan.

Gaynor continues to lead and champion good causes and has recently been appointed as the Chair of the West Glamorgan Regional Carers Partnership Board and the West Glamorgan Regional Partnership Board Lead for Co-Production

The Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour that NPTC Group of Colleges can bestow on members of the public in recognition of an exceptional and outstanding contribution to the people of Neath Port Talbot County Borough and the County of Powys and Wales. Over the past ten years, the College has awarded fellowships to many individuals including fellow rugby star Ryan Jones, actor Michael Sheen, Welsh Defender Ben Davies, Welsh Netball’s Suzy Drane, amongst a whole host of others.

In her ceremony speech, the Acting Chief Executive and Acting Principal of NPTC Group of Colleges Catherin Lewis said: “We are incredibly proud of all our students and as graduates of NPTC Group of Colleges you now join the 1000s of college alumni who represent us worldwide. We are committed as an institution to working in partnership with our students and listening to what is important to you as a student. This was reflected in the recent National Student Survey where we achieved an overall student satisfaction of 94% which was significantly above the sector average. We also achieved 100% overall student satisfaction for courses franchised by the University of South Wales. In June 2022, the Quality Assurance Agency endorsed the quality of our higher education provision, and we received an incredible six commendations including our commitment to student engagement and enabling students to contribute to the overall quality of provision. To all new graduands, this is not the end of the journey but the beginning of a new chapter of your life.”

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