From education to employment

Celebrating another year of success at Barry College

Barry Memorial Hall last week played host to the lavish and extremely popular Barry College Annual Awards Ceremony. Now in its fourth year, the event was more spectacular than ever.

Around 300 learners, staff, sponsors and guests from local business and industry arrived at the Memorial Hall for the ceremony that celebrates the success and achievements of the College, its staff and learners during the last academic year.

Guests included Barry College award winners and their guests, staff and governors, representatives from partner organisations including universities, sector skills councils, Cardiff and Vale Councils and the Welsh Assembly Government. There was also an array of sponsors in attendance, as the event supported by a range of organisations including local, national and international, public and private sector companies.

All guests were given a gift pack on arrival, which was filled with many gifts from sponsoring organisations and the awards brochure for the evening.

The evening began with a glamorous drinks reception in the Bedwas Hall before guests were welcomed into the Main Hall by Principal and Chief Executive of Barry College, Paul Halstead.

Once seated, guests tucked into a three-course gourmet meal prepared and served by Barry College Hospitality and Catering learners and staff.

After coffee, the Principal introduced the evening with a welcome and review of the year, highlighting the work and achievement of the College, its staff and learners during the academic year 2005-2006. This included becoming the largest work based learning provider in Wales and achieving the highest increase in Higher Education enrolments in a Welsh college.

Vale of Glamorgan AM and Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning & Skills Jane Hutt then gave a short speech.

The minister praised the College for its commitment to its learners, the community and the wider Welsh community with its partnerships with other Colleges, such as Deeside. Speaking about the role of Further Education in helping the Welsh Assembly Government tackle the recession, she said: "Barry College will play a key role in delivering education and training related to recovery. I have every confidence that the College will rise to the challenge."

Then it was time to turn the spotlight on to the 32 learners and 13 staff members who were being awarded at the ceremony. Winners were recognised after being nominated by members of staff at the College and then chosen by senior staff and governors to receive awards.

All 45 awards were sponsored by local and national organisations, with representatives from these organisations presenting the relevant award to the winner. University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) and College subsidiary the Vale of Glamorgan Training Association (VGTA) were the main sponsors of the event.

Other organisations that came on board as sponsors include Construction Skills, WJEC, Cardiff University, OCR, Red Dragon Radio, the South Wales Echo and Stephen Terry’s the Hardwick restaurant. All were delighted to support this positive event within the local community.

The ceremony, hosted by BBC Wales presenter Frances Donovan, began by awarding a learner from every curriculum area of the College. These learners were chosen for excellence and achievement in their subject area.

One learner who was recognised was Lindsay Foster, who was chosen for the Foundation Skills award. Awarded for her heard work and commitment, Lindsay – 23, from Barry – has won a place at a prestigious drama school.

Next came the Cross College and Staff Awards. The Cross College award winners were chosen for their outstanding achievements. Individuals were nominated for these awards by staff in Barry College and chosen by the Barry College Senior Management Team.

One winner of a Cross College Award was Art & Design learner Hanna Waz. Originally from Poland, the 24-year-old now lives in Cardiff and her tutor, Adrian Metcalf said: "Despite English not being her first language, she provided a high standard of throughout the year, achieving a distinction overall. Hanna has now progressed onto the Foundation Degree in Art & Design, franchised by UWIC, and is making great progress – she’s a pleasure to teach!"

Tim O’Connell, 50 and from Penarth, won the Cross College Adult Learner of the Year Award. His Foundation Degree in Business lecturer Judy Pritchard said: "Seeing his industry hit by the economic recession, Tim looked to build upon his skills and experience in business and management by gaining a formal professional qualification. Tim was committed to successfully completing the HNC in Business, despite changing employment during the course, overcoming the challenges presented to him."

Another winner was Lauren Furnish, 20, from Barry, who netted the Work Based Learner Award. Hayley Carpenter of the VGTA said: "Lauren started with the VGTA on a work-based learning programme at the age of 16. Since then she has completed the challenging qualifications of AAT NVQ levels two, three and four in accountancy. Lauren gained a place at the training scheme at Bloomfield & Alexander, and is working towards her ACA qualifications – the first step to becoming a Chartered Accountant."

Eight members of staff were awarded next, through the Staff Awards. Barry College values every member of staff and appreciates that during their working lives many go beyond the call of duty to further contribute to the experience of their learners.

The awards given on the evening recognise individuals or departments for their notable contribution to College life during the 2007-08 academic year. This ranged from the innovative aerospace initiatives developed to meet the industry’s needs, becoming the first college in South Wales to achieve Careers Wales Dragon’s Tail Status and showing unrelenting enthusiasm and continued contribution to the College and its learners’ achievements.

The last award to be presented was the Principal’s Award. This prestigious award was presented to the learner that most reflected College values throughout their time at College through outstanding achievement, their attitude or participation in extra-curricular activities. Individuals were nominated by College staff and the winner chosen by the Principal.

The delighted winner of this award was Ruth Tobin. Ruth was nominated by her Course Tutors, Teresa Kadach and David Morgan who said she has overcome personal difficulties and dyslexia, and juggling work and home to commitments to progress from the Level 2 courses in IT through a BTEC National Diploma in ICT and is now studying the HNC in Computing.

"It is a delight to see Ruth continue to succeed, moving towards her end goal of becoming an IT lecturer,” Teresa said. “She truly is an inspiration."

Following the presentation of the awards, Chair of Governors Peter Cope gave a vote of thanks, congratulating all the award winners, saying that such an event is a reminder of why education is something to feel passionate about. He added that Barry College is a positive, dynamic institution that works hard to ensure learner success.

South Wales Echo columnist Peter Collins, who presented the Adult Learner Award, said: "It has been a truly inspiring evening. I was impressed by the very high standard of achievement in so many areas of education and training that the College has demonstrated.

"The meal was as excellent as I expected and it reinforces my opinion that Barry College’s catering staff and students are the best kept secret in Wales!"

The College would like to thank all of its sponsors who supported the event, particularly the main sponsors. The support of the sponsors ensures that the success of our learners continues to be celebrated in such a high quality way.

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