From education to employment

Student success celebrated at Cardiff and Vale College Annual Awards 2017

CAVC Annual Awards 2017 winners

Cardiff 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 35 current and former students plus the College’s partner organisations were recognised for their efforts and contribution to College life.

Award winners and guests were treated to a drinks reception with bowl food in the College’s Success Centre. Entertainment was on hand from CAVC students who performed music during the reception.

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 2016-17 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 national competition awards in their chosen disciplines, progressed on to university courses, the next level at College or within their careers. One, Andrew Horley, became the first person in Wales to find employment through Project SEARCH – a major international project which provides work and learning opportunities for young people with additional learning needs.

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


“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 really are exciting and motivational; what these amazing people have done impresses upon you how beneficial Further Education can be.”


The Outstanding Achievement Award went to former A Level student Ben Thomas. Captain of the College’s Rugby Academy, Ben was capped last year for Wales and toured South Africa, and backed up his early selection with a stand-out performance against England and France at Ebbw Vale in 2017. An extremely popular member of the Academy who carried out his buddy duties with first year students with passion, Ben always attended sessions despite not always being to play due to WRU commitments – Ben embodied the Rugby Academy ethos.

Ben has now progressed on to university, but during his time at CAVC he fully immersed himself in the Academy environment.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) student Silviana Rizea won the Contribution to College Life Award. A dedicated student who is committed to helping and inspiring her fellow students, Silviana has volunteered to run IT clubs for her peers in her own time, was unanimously elected as her Course Rep and has been appointed ESOL Student Digital Team Leader, assisting her peers to upskill.

“I need to calm myself down – I’m so excited!” Silviana said upon receiving her award. “I wouldn’t be here without my teachers and mum who has been the biggest support anyone could ever have.


“I enjoy every minute of my time at College and I’ve had so many opportunities to do different stuff. I’m a Course Rep and a Digital Leader and Sabbatical Officer – it’s all flowed very naturally. I wanted to give something back to the College.


“I would like to become a teacher in the College, in the IT department.”

Shaun Donovan won the Art Design and Multimedia Award. A passionate, hard-working and committed learner whose enthusiasm rubbed off on his peers, Shaun was heavily involved with the Creative Department’s Human of Cardiff exhibition – a student-led show at the Sustainable Studios which featured the portraits and stories of people from the Capital.


“I’m a bit blown away to win an award – it’s amazing,” The 18-year-old from Penarth said. “The support from my teachers has been brilliant – I didn’t have a good time at school but the support I have received here has changed my life. This evening has been dramatic but I’ve loved it.”

The Building Services Award went to James Ackland. A mature student who was keen to show he could still compete against the youngsters, James went on to win gold in the Skills Competition Wales SkillBuild Wall and Floor Tiling contest and is going on to the UK-wide finals next month.

“I’m really happy and over the moon that my efforts have been acknowledged,” James, who is 38 and from Cardiff, said. “I’ve been trying to find a role in life. I’ve stayed at home since I was 18 looking after my children so I decided to return to education.


“I’m overjoyed that I did. I’ve taken part in SkillBuild which I won so I’m going to be involved in the national competition. Hopefully I can beat England, Scotland and Ireland!”


Danielle Halford, 20 and from Barry, won the Business Award. Danielle joined the College’s Career ready programme to boost her confidence and the results were outstanding. She astonished her mentors during an internship at Santander with her ability and drive, and she was invited to the CBI’s national conference.

“With Career Ready I was given so many opportunities – now I work with Santander and I have a bright future ahead of me,” Danielle said. “The College’s Career Ready Co-ordinator Tracy Bird has been absolutely amazing. She supports me even now when I’m not even in College any more. This awards evening has been a lovely evening.”

Seventeen-year-old Leon Hayward from Barry collected the Construction Award. A keen woodworker, aged just 16 Leon came third in the 2017 Ray Key Youth Turner competition – a national contest for woodturners.

“It first started when I was 14 when I got into doing wood turning,” Leon said. “I liked it and I wanted a career in woodwork, so I decided to come to College and do a joinery course.


“I’m really happy and I’m stunned that I’ve won an award. I didn’t think I was that good but obviously I am!”

The IT Award went to Sion Charles, who is 24 and from Penarth. Sion started at the College as a Vocational Access learner and progressed on to the BTEC Extended Diploma in IT.

Despite battling significant medical issues, Sion is always enthusiastic, worked hard as a Course Rep and undertook many challenges for charity – he was often to be seen singing or offering hugs to raise funds. Sion has now progressed to Cardiff University to study business in order to fulfil his ambition of managing his own charity.

“I feel amazing. I got really excited when my tutor told me he was going to put me forward for an award but I wasn’t expecting to win it,” Sion said. “My tutors Darren and Jim have been amazing and now I’m going to Cardiff University to do Business Management.


“I’ve been at the College for six years. I started off on Horizons and Vocational Access because I didn’t have any GCSEs or A Levels because of health problems. This evening has been amazing and I feel humbled to be here.”

The International Award went to IELTS Academic English learner May Alkhatib. May is from Homs in Syria, where she and her children were prevented from their studies and education due to the conflict there.

When her husband came to Wales and gained asylum, May escaped to the Lebanon until gaining a family reunion visa. Wanting to follow her dream career as an architect but not having sufficient English for university, May was awarded a grant to study on the College’s IELTS programme and has since been accepted to study architecture at Cardiff University. During her time at College May was always smiling and enthusiastic and organised social events for her peers.

“I’m so excited and so glad to win this award,” May said. “I really appreciate all of the other winners’ hard work as well.


“This is not just an award: it’s a responsibility so I have to keep working hard. I would like to thank my tutors who encouraged me. It’s a great College and without CAVC I wouldn’t be in university now, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dream.”

Lewis Richmond won the Higher Education Award. The 22-year-old from Barry started at the College on BTEC Level 3 in Aerospace Engineering, progressing on to the Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering the College offers in partnership with Kingston University.

Having taken his top-up third year, Lewis this year graduated with a first class full BSc with Honours in Aircraft Engineering. He also took part in the College’s graduation ceremony for its Higher Education learners a few days before the awards ceremony.

“It’s been an eventful couple of days,” Lewis said. “I graduated on the weekend, which was a very big day because I got a first. Winning this award is brilliant as well.


“My family, my mum and dad and my friends are all very proud and say that I am deserving of my results because of all of my hard work. I’d like to thank everyone at CAVC, especially my tutor Allan Higman who’s been an absolute star. I wouldn’t have got where I am without these people. I’d also like to thank tutor Kay Davies for believing in me.”

Ysgol Bro Morgannwg pupil, 16-year-old Catherine Jones from Barry, won the School Link Award. Catherine has just completed a VTCT Hair and Beauty course through the medium of Welsh and showed 100% commitment throughout, representing her school and the College and a number of events including being interviewed for Welsh TV programme Prynhawn. She has found weekend and holiday employment, hosts makeover parties in Welsh and English for young girls and takes part in holiday workshops with the Urdd and Mentor Caerdydd.

Catherine said: “I’m very happy – I feel very privileged to win this award. I’ve got to thank Nicola Buttle who has been so supportive throughout the two years of the course. It’s been a very beneficial course and I’ve had the opportunity to do lots of interesting things like work at a festival in Cardiff and be interviewed for television. Nicola has been brilliant and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better as a tutor.


“It’s been a great evening, my friends cheered pretty loudly when my name came up! It’s a nice way to end my two years at the College which have been brilliant.”

The winners of the Alumni Award were former students Rhys Schuster and Jamie Harris. Jamie and Rhys returned to the College in the 2016-17 academic year as part of the University of South Wales and CAVC Football Intern Programme.

Rhys and Jamie both settled in quickly as assistant football coaches and in the current academic year have assumed the role of head Coaches under Head of Football Jamie Sherwood. They have both passed their FAW C Cert awards and are awaiting to undertake the assessment for the UEFA B License award.

Rhys, who is 20 and from Penarth, said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. It’s been an honour to be able to return to the College as coaches so to pick up an award is a big thing – I’m really proud. I’d like to say a big thank you to Jamie Sherwood for helping us come back and everything he’s done in helping with our careers.


“I had a fantastic time at the College and it helped me get on to the next level as a coach – it pushed me on. I wouldn’t be where I am today so I’m very appreciative of everything the College has done for me both as a student and as a coach as well.”

Twenty-two-year-old Jamie, also from Penarth, added: “It’s such a great honour and a privilege to be given this award. The College has a large Alumni Network so to be selected is an honour. I couldn’t have done it without Jamie Sherwood who has given us so much support.”


College partner organisations British Airways, Creative Education Partnership Cardiff, Deloitte, Federation of Small Business Wales and project SEARCH were also celebrated for the innovative approaches to work-based learning on behalf of the College for giving students the best possible start in life.

A wide range of sponsors also supported the event, ensuring the College could recognise learner achievement in style. CAVC would like to thank Capital FM, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff University, Circle IT and the University of South Wales for helping the awards be the success that they were.

Award category




Francesca Hill

Adult Foundation, Access to Social Science, Foundation Degree in Social Science


Shanua Holmes

BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma

Art, Design and Multimedia

Shaun Donovan

BTEC Level 3 Art and Design


James Thomas

Level 3 Vehicle Body Repair

Beauty and Complementary Therapy

Carys Lamerton

NVA Level 2 Hairdressing, Beauty and Complementary Therapies

Building Services

James Ackland

NVQ Level 2 Wall and floor Tiling


Danielle Halford

Diploma in Business

Childcare and Early Years

Harriet Bennett

CACHE Level Children’s Care, Learning and Development


Leon Hayward

BTEC Level 2 Bench Joinery

Education and Training

Diana Searle



Saulius Paltanavicius

Level 3 Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Jiani Chen

Level 1 ESOL

Foundation Studies

Andrew Horley

Independent Living Skills

General Education

Michael Bonney

A Levels


Nelly Tametah

Level 3 Hairdressing

Health and Care

Debbie Sylvester

Foundation Degree in Care Studies

Hospitality and Catering

Shania Tagoe

Level 3 Hospitality


Sion Charles

BTEC Extended Diploma in IT

Performing Arts

Charlie Morgan

Foundation Degree in Performing Arts

Sport, Public Services and Tourism

Chantel Simmons

BTEC Level Travel and Tourism

Widening Participation

Cole Chick

Widening Participation – Media Academy Cardiff

Adult and Community

Nutica Neascu

Foundations of Learning/ABE


Kate Griffiths

Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering


Michelle O’Dare

Level 3 Bakery


Sarah Sullivan

Level 3 Bakery

Higher Education

Lewis Richmond

BSc (Hons) in Aircraft Engineering


May Alkhatib

IELTS Academic English

Junior Apprenticeship

Anya Goode

Hair and Beauty Junior Apprenticeship

Junior Apprenticeship

Tibor Cervenak

Building Services Junior Apprenticeship

School Link

Catherine Jones

Hair and Beauty School Link

Business and Partnership

British Airways


Business and Partnership

Creative Education Partnership Cardiff


Business and Partnership



Business and Partnership

Federation of Small Business Wales


Business and Partnership

Project SEARCH


Contribution to College Life

Silviana Rizea

Level 2 ESOL


Rhys Schuster



Jamie Harris


Outstanding Achievement

Ben Thomas

A Levels


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