Beaming smiles that said 'we did it' brought sunshine to a wet and windy day in Chichester on Friday (27 September).
Students from Chichester, Crawley and Brinsbury Colleges gathered at Chichester Cathedral for the Chichester College Group (CCG) graduation.
The ceremony recognised the hard work achievements of students who have completed higher national certificates (HNCs), higher national diplomas (HNDs), foundation degrees and professional qualifications in subjects ranging from animal management to performing arts and from engineering to marketing.
The cathedral was packed with family members, staff, governors and guests including Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester, who gave an inspiring speech which celebrated the importance of FE (further education) and presented certificates to the graduating class of 2019.
Adam Bradbury, who completed his HND in Computing at Chichester College, paid tribute to his lecturers. He said: "I'm not really that academic, so I never really thought this day would happen so this is amazing.
"I was always a bit disillusioned with education, so I took some time out before starting this course and what blew me away was all of the lecturers. I wouldn't be standing here without them and their support."
Claire O'Kennedy, who graduated from Brinsbury College with a HND in Equine Management agreed. She added: "One of the biggest highlights was the lecturers. They really helped me to progress through my course.
"It was hard work, but they really helped and supported me. It's been really nice to come here, see everyone and celebrate!"
Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of CCG led the ceremony, which started with a procession of staff and dignitaries at the cathedral.
She said: “For the first time, we came together as a group to celebrate the achievements of our new graduates from all of our colleges.
"It is always our privilege to see so many students, from different backgrounds and of all different ages, come together and take time to celebrate with each other.
"They have all put in so much hard work to completing their studies with us and have demonstrated an enormous amount of dedication, commitment and passion for their subjects.
"I know I speak for their lecturers and for all of the staff across our colleges when I say how proud we are of each and every one of them.
"We are very lucky to be able to host our graduation at Chichester Cathedral, providing a beautiful backdrop for this fantastic, happy occasion.
"We now join our graduates in looking forward to their future and all the further achievements that I am sure will come their way."
During the ceremony, CCG paid tribute to Alison Moorey, Chief Executive of St Wilfrid's Hospice, who was awarded an honorary fellowship.
A number of special awards were also handed out to those who have demonstrated a particular flare or ability during their course, had achieved outstanding grades or made significant progress.
The following special awards were presented:
· Creative Media Production Student of the Year – Liam Daley
· Creative Multimedia and Journalism Student of the Year - Samuel Rankin
· Animal Management Student of the Year – Bethany Robinson
· Computing Student of the Year – Tom Meads
· Hair & Beauty Student of the Year – Emma Collins
· Performing Arts Student of the Year – Erin Tanswell
· Biosciences Student of the Year – Shaun Ewing