Derwen College students celebrate at graduation

Pride, laughter and a few tears were the order of the day for students, parents and staff at a grand graduation ceremony for Derwen College students at the Lion Quays Hotel and Resort, near ‘Oswestry, Saturday.

Derwen College graduates Sophie, Isobel, Joe, Mary and Anna with Shropshire High Sheriff Selina Graham and Derwen College Governors Chair Kathleen Kimber

Over 180 guests, including 37 students and their families from across England and Wales, staff, supporters and local dignitaries attended the scintillating event to celebrate the inspiring achievements of students at Shropshire College for Young People adults with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) .

Former students received their graduation certificates and individual awards – lasting memories of their time at the main specialist college. Drinks and a buffet lunch were served by the College’s hospitality students, and entertainment was provided by the street dance team Derwen Dance Crew (DDC) and the sign, song and dance group Derwen on Tower (DOT).

Local dignitaries were on hand to congratulate Derwen College students and help interns complete courses that enable them to achieve their ambitions, be it employment, voluntary work, assisted living or a greater level of self-confidence and independence.

Guests included Oswestry Mayor Jay Moore, Shropshire High Sheriff Selina Graham, Selattyn & Gobowen Parish President Craig Emery and Cae Glas Lodge Freemasons Secretary Pete Adams. College industry champions, volunteers who share their expertise to support students and staff, were also in attendance. They were poet and author Jan Hedges, Moreton Hall School chef Stephen Conroy and Oswestry Old School House restaurant owner Sophie Dillon.

Graduation was a time for students to dress up and catch up with old friends to talk about their plans for the future.

The College awarded individual awards to outstanding students. These included the new Caitlin Kelly Spirit Award in memory of a former student who tragically died before he could graduate. The award recognizing spirit and personal growth was presented to retail graduate Mary Tait.

Graduate Amy Jude – who served as president of the student union board for two years – received the Jonathon Wooldridge Cup for her achievements in theatre. She was also able to announce that she had been shortlisted for the Association of College’s Mature Student of the Year award.

Performing arts graduate Anna Redding from Shropshire won two awards: Outstanding Student Performing Arts and Overall Outstanding Student.

Derwen College Principal Meryl Green said it was a wonderful occasion, one that made her very proud.

She said: “Thank you to all the students and their families who made this such a special occasion. It is such a privilege to be able to celebrate the achievements of our students. It’s always sad to see students leave us but a pleasure to hear what the future holds for them.

“We hope the learning and skills they develop at Derwen College will stay with them and help them through the next stages of their lives towards work and independent living.”

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