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The College Rhymney student named Learner of the year at UHOVI Awards

Learner of the Year 1

UHOVI award winner Thomas Rudge with Real Radio's Jagger and Woody


Thomas Rudge, a student from the Rhymney campus, has been crowned The College Ystrad Mynach UHOVI Learner of the Year 2013.

Thomas was awarded the accolade at the UHOVI (Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute) celebratory evening which took place at the General Offices in Ebbw Vale. The hosts of the event were Real Radio’s Jagger and Woody plus special guests included weather presenter Behnaz Akhgar, Richard Parfitt, lead singer of 60 Foot Dolls, and Huw Williams of Pooh Sticks and a key figure in the Welsh music industry.

Thomas was one of eight worthy award winners recognised for their outstanding commitment and achievements. He has been studying the Foundation Degree in Digital Photography at The College Rhymney for the past academic year. Thomas started the course as a shy and quiet learner but his tutor says he has become more confident, researches extensively and is continually gaining knowledge. He consistently meets deadlines and delivers strong bodies of work, successfully combining the course with significant responsibilities at home.

Part of the University of South Wales, UHOVI provides opportunities to study higher education courses at venues across the Valleys region. Working in partnership with further education colleges, businesses, local authorities and work based learning providers, UHOVI is inspiring people to continue or return to education in order to improve their skills or gain a qualification.

University of South Wales Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Director of UHOVI Graham Rogers said: “UHOVI has gone from strength to strength, providing a first class learning experience for students and working with communities to raise aspirations.

“The award winning students are truly inspirational and it is a privilege to be able to share their stories which demonstrate how learning can make a positive difference to the lives of individuals and their families.”

Alun Davies, AM Blaenau Gwent said: “Higher education should not be something that can only be accessed in our cities; it is something that should be accessible to everyone who wants to learn, irrespective of age and location.

“This is why UHOVI has been such a success.  By tapping into a wealth of students in the Valleys area who have shown a commitment to learn and better themselves, UHOVI has helped to unleash a new generation of qualified professionals into the workplace. 

“Its students are a shining example of its success and it is an organisation I am proud to support.”

A videos of award winner Thomas Rudge and tutor Peter Britton who nominated him are available online at http://www.youtube.com/user/UhoviVideos 


Learner of the Year 2

UHOVI award winner Thomas Rudge with BBC weathergirl Behnaz Akhgar


Posted by marketing at 14:17

The College Ystrad Mynach senior staff scoop prestigious learning awards

    Bryn Niace Awards  Rhos Niace Awards

Left: Principal Bryn Davies. Right: Community Learning Officer Rhos Griffiths


SENIOR staff at The College Ystrad Mynach have won prestigious learning awards.

Principal Bryn Davies celebrated the Services to Lifelong Learning Award at the NIACE Inspire Awards 2013, while Rhos Griffiths, Community Learning Officer at the College, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr Davies took over as principal of The College in 1997, following the departure of Don Brooks, as part of a career in education that has spanned over 40 years.

During his tenure he has overseen over £7 million invested into community learning, the opening of five new campuses - including Blackwood, Tredomen and Bargoed - and student numbers that have trebled, reaching 13,000 this year.

Mr Davies said:

“Working in education has certainly taught me one thing, you need people around you with a common dream and goal.

“Particularly those that remove the barriers, and inspire you to achieve, and it has been a great privilege to be able to share this with our community learners and to make a real difference.”       

Rhos Griffiths, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award, was instrumental in starting the Caerphilly Learning Festival Group and has acted as both Chair and Treasurer over the last six years.

His enthusiasm and passion for adult education has brought together a robust group of educational providers who meet regularly throughout the year.  

Mr Griffiths said:

“My career in education has spanned over 40 years starting as an adult education tutor and rising to the Wales Director of a national organisation in the form of NIACE Dysgu Cymru.

“I have decided to retire in July from my role as Community Learning Officer with The College Ystrad Mynach and I am busy taking the lead in succession planning to find adult educators to take forward the work of the Caerphilly Learning Festival Group.”

Posted by Marketing at 13:27

Rhymney student beats cancer and scoops college award

Prize Giving 2012

A young Rhymney student who overcame cancer has gone on to win a prestigious learning award.  

Craig Bannan, aged 20, won the IT Practitioners Award at an awards ceremony held in Caerphilly Castle that celebrated the achievements of over 50 students of The College Ystrad Mynach. 

Craig was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009. His illness forced him to leave college, having enrolled on the BTEC Level 3 National course in IT, to receive treatment and concentrate on his recovery.

After seemingly overcoming cancer, he re-enrolled at The College Ystrad Mynach a year later.

Having starting his course at the second attempt Craig unfortunately suffered a relapse. However, he decided that he was not going to drop out and was determined to complete the course while receiving treatment.

During the year, Craig underwent an intensive course of treatment and rehabilitation, including two operations and chemotherapy.


(Craig, pictured above, receiving his award from guest speaker at the event, Victoria Winckler, Bevan Foundation)

Despite enduring such gruelling medical treatment, the 20 year-old logged into the college’s online system every day to check for any work to be completed and any outstanding deadlines.

Happily, Craig is now in remission and completed his course without requesting any extensions or revised deadlines.

Craig was nominated for the IT Practitioners Award by his course tutor, Sharon Young, who was impressed with his attitude and contribution to the course. The award celebrates those who have achieved excellence on the course, which specialises in computer programming, maintenance and networking and business administration.

He is now studying for an accountancy qualification and plans to go to university to study chartered accountancy.

Craig said:

“The second time I was diagnosed I thought to myself ‘I’ve got to do this course or it’s my life over. I can’t let this get in the way again.’ I stayed on the course and worked from home. Having the work to do gave me the incentive to battle through my problems and to succeed.

“It was tough working through the time of having treatment but the teachers always supported me with my workload.

“I logged into our college system any time I felt well to check if there was any work to do or deadlines. The tutors always let me know if there were any problems and my girlfriend and family have been a great support.”

Bryn Davies, Principal of The College Ystrad Mynach, said:

“Craig is an inspiration to us all and is a testament to those battling with adversity. The strength it must have taken to beat cancer, whilst also continuing his studies, is astonishing.

“We also pride ourselves in our teaching staff and the teachers are always here to support every student in every way they can, which is clearly the case here, as we did everything we could to support Craig with his course and also his overall wellbeing.”

Posted by Marketing at 13:08

Student from The College Ystrad Mynach bids for Apprentice of the Year award

Rhys Apprentice Award.jpgA hard-working student from The College Ystrad Mynach is in the running to become Apprentice of the Year in a Wales-wide award scheme.

Rhys West, 20, from Penpedairheol, is a finalist in the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru which celebrate the achievements of apprentices, employers and learning providers.

The awards, which are split into eight different categories, are organised by the Welsh Government together with the National Training Federation Wales.

Rhys has been invited to an awards ceremony at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House on November 16 where he will find out if he has won the top prize in the Apprentice of the Year category.

After gaining a handful of low-grade GCSEs at Lewis School in Pengam in 2007, Rhys decided to give plumbing a go and began a four-year apprenticeship with Brecongate Projects Ltd in Treforest. While gaining hands-on experience four days a week with the firm, Rhys was also in the classroom once a week.

For the last two years, he has been studying under the expert tutors at The College Ystrad Mynach and has successfully completed an NVQ Level 3 in mechanical engineering (plumbing).

Rhys has also added to his skills with gas and electrical qualifications by going to evening classes at the college. He said the apprenticeship not only helped him to learn a host of practical skills but also boosted his confidence.

He said:  “The apprenticeship has given me the inspiration and confidence to continue to gain new skills to further develop my career. My self confidence has been boosted having to deal with so many varied situations over the past four years. I also learned a lot about myself and my capabilities.

When he first started at Brecongate, he was doing small tasks under supervision but very quickly found himself being given a lot more responsibility and, by the end of the second year, was regularly working on his own.

Rhys, who enjoys going to the gym in his spare time, said:  “Training with the college and the support of the tutors and the engineers at Brecongate has been absolutely priceless.”As well as setting him on the road to success, Rhys’ hard work has had other benefits.

He has inspired his father Paul to re-train as a mechanical engineer at The College Ystrad Mynach after 30 years as a full time welder/fabricator.Paul has also been taken on by Brecongate and father and son often work as a team together.

College Principal Bryn Davies said: “Rhys is a shining example of what hard work and determination can achieve. He has worked extremely hard during his apprenticeship and we wish him all the best for the awards and in his future career.”  

Posted by Marketing at 10:39
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Achievement rewarded at The College Ystrad Mynach Annual Awards"

Anna Prize Giving.jpgLearners have been rewarded for their achievements in the college classroom.

The College Ystrad Mynach held its annual awards presentation evening at Caerphilly Castle where 60 learners were honoured for their hard work over the last 12 months.

Students were presented with awards in a number of different areas including care, technology, carpentry, plumbing, sport and hairdressing.

Anna Gordine, 22 from Bedwas, won the College Basic Skills Award. Anna had been in a special needs class in school, with little opportunity for academic work. Both Anna and her family fought for her to participate in mainstream secondary education and she was finally allowed to take three GCSEs, but not English or Mathematics.

After leaving school, Anna set out to gain the qualifications and learning experience she felt she had been denied, attending a basic skills class in 2008 to enable her access a Child Care course at The College Ystrad Mynach.

She was accepted onto the course and enjoyed a rewarding year, passing all of her exams.

Her tutor Tina Huish said: “Anna is an inspiration. By looking to the future and taking control of her life she has been able to progress in her career, gain independence and has also been able to benefit from the joy of learning.”

Anna is currently studying towards her Level 3 Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning & Development  and also continues to study basic skills at the college.

Anna, whose parents Kerry and Douglas were there to cheer her on at the ceremony, said: “I really didn’t think I had won. I was really, really chuffed though and it’s nice that my hard work has been recognised.”

She works part time at the nursery at Ty’n-Y-Wern Primary School in Trethomas where she is able to put her child care skills to great use. She also has a Saturday job at John Lewis in Cardiff.Anna, who has a twin brother Christian and an older sister Natalie, hopes to become a teaching assistant when she completes her studies.

Conna Johnson, 19, from Trethomas, was presented with the CACHE Level 2 Full Time Care Award. He was the only male in a group of 19.

His tutor Angela Jones said: “Conna has consistently achieved a high standard in placement and course work and always gives his all to his work. A day never passed without Conna making people feel good with his continuous smiling face.”

The awards were presented by Jeff Cuthbert, AM for Caerphilly, who was also governor of the college until May this year.As the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills, he is responsible for identifying the skills needs of employers, learners and learning providers across Wales.

Mr Cuthbert told the students and their proud families and friends:  “All of you here are shining examples of where combined action has achieved a common goal. We have scores of awards being celebrated and every one is very well deserved.“Only by working together will we do our best to tackle the Welsh economy’s short-term challenges head-on, but also plan for the current recovery and the future by building our long-term skills base. All of the learners here tonight will be at the heart of that journey.”

College Principal Bryn Davies said the last year had been a very busy and very successful one for the college, with students and staff working tremendously hard to achieve their goals.And he said how hugely proud he was of the award winners.

“Congratulations to you all. Each and every one of you should be proud of yourselves, for everything you have achieved over the last year,” he added.

Catering at the ceremony on Tuesday, October 18, was provided by the College’s school of catering and hospitality and the evening ended with a performance by Caerphilly Male Voice Choir.Prize sponsors included Caerphilly Rotary Club, Amazing Glazing, Beauty Express, BIIAB, Caerphilly Social Club, CR, Dry Wall Systems, Howells Coaches, Keith’s Fruit and Veg, Latham Properties, Mainline Travel, Morgan Cole, OCR, Rabart Decorators Merchants, Cottage Loaf Bakery, Thomas Morgan and Associates, UWIC and USL Audio Visual.

Posted by Marketing at 10:36