College News

Estonian student discovers his talent at Coleg Sir Gâr

Coleg Sir Gâr has helped a student from Estonia unlock his potential in fashion and textile design. 

Raito Piirisild has been studying AS levels to help improve his English and whilst at college, he discovered he had a talent for fashion and textiles despite initially, being reluctant to take up the subject. 

His final project consisted of making a recycled fox-inspired jumpsuit using a bed cover fashioned with his own textile designs.

Raito Piirisild said: “I left maths because I wasn’t really improving my language skills so I needed to choose another subject.

“I really wasn’t keen on the thought of studying textiles but I think it was fate when the textiles teacher walked in to the meeting as now I’m considering studying fashion design at university.

“The teachers have been so friendly and helpful and the course is very creative as we use photography and art and studying in a relaxed environment has improved my English so much.” 

Sharon Williams, A-level textiles lecturer said: “Raito has shown a natural talent which he wasn’t even aware of until now.

“He has machine sewn a jumpsuit and used stitching instead of line work to create artwork within the garment.”

Raito will return to Estonia this month (May) to continue his studies before going to university. 


Raito with his textiles A-level group who organised a personalised farewell cake and (above) with his textiles/fashion design 


Driving the importance of literacy

A double-decker bus housing over 4000 books visited Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford campus on its first UK tour. 

The Brown’s Book Bus is a travelling showroom designed to help rural communities and educational establishments see what’s new in the world of books for study and reading for fun.

Staff and students were welcomed aboard to view new titles and to suggest items for their campus library.

They explored the mobile educational showroom, equipped with live terminals, eBook platforms, electronic displays and stock scanners and the fun element was added to as for many students it was their first experience inside a double-decker bus.

Liz Chester, librarian at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford campus said: “We were delighted to be one of the first stops on the Brown’s Book Bus’s first UK tour and we are hoping the bus will call again at another of our campuses in the autumn.”


Giving literacy a boost: Entry level students at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford campus exploring Brown’s Book Bus 


Bilingual beatboxer thanks Welsh language for global career


Beatboxer and producer Ed Holden, otherwise known as, Mr Phormula, recently ran beatboxing workshops with students at Coleg Sir Gâr. 

The workshops demonstrated techniques used to replicate instruments using only voice and a microphone. 

Ed Holden demonstrated his beatboxing skills, the use of technology, and freestyle rap but the main focus of the session was how the Welsh language and being a bilingual speaker has been key to his success and how it has opened doors to more opportunities.

As a role model for Big Ideas Wales, who coordinated the workshop, Ed Holden said: “Fortunately Welsh language beat boxers are a minority in Wales so I had no competition in this growing art form.”

Being a beatboxer has given Ed Holden a global career, with Berlin for the World Championship being his next destination. “None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for my ability to speak and rap in my native, Welsh language,” said Ed Holden. “I started beatboxing at the age of six when I saw a clip on MTV by beatboxer Rahzel, since then, I’ve met and performed alongside him in New York, which is the highlight of my career to date.”

Gwyndaf Lewis, from Coleg Sir Gar’s bilingualism team, added: “The workshop was great for students to take part in which raised awareness of the use of the Welsh language which is a key part of what we do at Coleg Sir Gâr. 

“Ed’s session showed how the Welsh language has opened many doors for him in the international stage and become who he is today.”

Learn more about Mr Phormula 

London artists’ college masterclass

Llanelli schoolchildren have been fusing engineering with design at Coleg Sir Gâr as part of their National Saturday Club masterclass, delivered by London designers, Silo Studio.

The National Saturday Club, funded locally by Reaching Wider is a free Saturday morning club, delivered nationally for 13-16 year-olds and driven by the Sorrell Foundation. 

As part of the 12-month programme, members attend a masterclass delivered by a prominent industry professional.

Silo Studio’s work involves developing expressive potential in industrial materials, which resulted in the two college clubs – art and design, and science and engineering, working together in the masterclass.

Attua Aparicio Torinos and Oscar Lessing who formed the company whilst studying at Royal College of Art, London, helped learners explore fabric mould making and the behaviour of expanding polystyrene. 

Sarah Hopkins, a printmaker and head of creative industries at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “This kind of expertise is something that club members wouldn’t have the chance to experience if it wasn’t for the National Saturday Club.

“The artists come from backgrounds in both engineering and aim to discover possibilities that the production line does not see in industrial materials using a mix of craft and technology, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to take part.”

Pics: Llanelli schoolchildren at Coleg Sir Gâr’s National Saturday Club for engineering and art in a masterclass delivered by artists from Silo Studio, London.


AoC disability sports award for inspiring student

A Coleg Sir Gâr sports student has won the Association of Colleges Achievement in Disability Sport award.

Oliver Griffith-Salter is paving the way for disability sports, coaching as far as Coventry Wheelchair Basketball Academy and Worcester Wolves wheelchair basketball team. 

His sporting achievements in wheelchair basketball are inspiring and include selection for GB U19s, Welsh U19s and U23s squad which he captained. He also captained the Wales squad in the UK School Games and currently plays for a division one premiere league team. 

As a college ambassador, disability student liaison officer and course representative for Coleg Sir Gâr’s extended diploma in sports development, Oliver is in a perfect position to promote disability sports at college and in the community. He’s worked with three secondary schools in Llanelli to get all children with a disability involved in sport as well as introducing Inclusive Zone Basketball (IZB) in schools followed by a community IZB team for young children. He is also running a college wheelchair basketball team that has competed in British and Welsh Colleges cups. 

With over 280 college volunteering hours overseen by the Millennium Volunteer scheme and travelling from Llandovery to study every day, Oliver Griffith-Salter is impressing his tutors. 

Rhian Davies, Coleg Sir Gâr sports lecturer said: “Oliver is a great role model and is dedicated to his sport. 

“As well as competing at international level for Wales and GB, Ollie has also undertaken coaching qualifications, coaching in local schools and the community and at college, ensuring more people have the opportunity to take part in disability sports and basketball. 

“For such a young man to not only progress his own training but to coach and mentor individuals, it shows how passionate he is, he thoroughly deserves this award.”


Pic: Coleg Sir Gâr sports student Oliver Griffith-Salter who has won the Association of Colleges Achievement in Disability Sport award.


Students’ formula for national science success

Chemistry students at Coleg Sir Gâr have won awards in a UK-wide competition that tests the skills of some of the top budding scientists in the country. 

Three students took part in Chemistry Olympiad, which is organised by the National Society of Chemistry and is an exam-based competition, which expands on skills taught in the A-level curriculum.  

Andrew Knox Jennings won silver, Ethan Scott Peters won bronze and Nathan Bowen won a bronze award. This was following a two-hour examination and additional exam revision sessions organised by chemistry lecturer, Dr James Vile. 

The competition is designed for students who are set to achieve A or A* grades at chemistry A-level.

Dr James Vile said: “The competition goes beyond the A-level specification and recognises the talents of those taking part. 

“It’s a very difficult paper but it relates closely to the topics the students are already studying, whilst expanding their knowledge base.”


Aspiring scientists UK awards: pictured with their lecturer Dr James Viles are Coleg Sir Gâr students (from left), Ethan Scott Peters and Nathan Bowen who won bronze awards and Andrew Knox who won a silver award in Chemistry Olympiad.


University masterclass for aspiring physicists

A-level physics students at Coleg Sir Gâr have taken part in a unique masterclass in particle physics, hosted by Swansea University.

Dr Sam Gregson, a Cambridge graduate renowned for his innovative and contemporary delivery of science education, led the event.

Students took part in a number of workshops and lecturers ranging from hunting the Higgs Boson to anti-matter and the latest experiments being conducted with anti-hydrogen. 

They also received an insight into the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider and most complex experimental facility ever built and had the opportunity to use the ATLAS director software to identify sub-atomic particles.

Andrew Dunlop, lecturer in physics at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “The masterclass gave students an insight into university and a very broad as well as comprehensive view of physics with an understanding of how much more there is to learn.” 


Pic: Aspiring physicists: Coleg Sir Gâr physics students putting their skills to the test at a particle physics masterclass, hosted by Swansea University.

Llanelli manufacturer reaps the rewards of investing in skills


Automotive manufacturer Gestamp Tallent Llanelli, which is reaping the rewards of investing in training and developing its workforce, has been shortlisted for a Vocational Qualification (VQ) Award.

Since taking over the Llanelli plant in 2011, Gestamp has transformed the business by investing in the plant and its people. It is a key supplier to automotive customers including Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Honda.

The company is one of three finalists competing for this year’s VQ Employer of the Year Award which focuses on employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.

Organised by the Welsh Government in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Qualifications Wales, the VQ Awards are designed to reward individuals and organisations for their commitment, hard work and achievements. 

The awards ceremony will be held at The Exchange Hotel, Cardiff on May 3 to coincide with VQ Day. 

People are central to Gestamp’s business strategy and one of its four corporate principles, “people are architects of success”, rings true in the Llanelli plant.

Gestamp’s dedicated ‘Talent Growth Programme’, which assesses skills, knowledge and behaviours via appraisals in association with enhanced job descriptions, creates individual, tailored development plans for all 428 Llanelli employees. 

The company has an all-inclusive approach to providing formal development and qualifications to its employees. 

“Achieving vocational qualifications and training are at the forefront of our business,” said Victoria Adams, the company’s training manager. “Promoting the personal and professional development of staff enables us to fulfil our other business objectives. 

“Our commitment to employees achieving qualifications knows no bounds - employees from the shopfloor to board level are included.”

In the last year, 20% of the workforce embarked on vocational programmes, ranging from mechanical engineering and welding to coaching, quality improvement and train the trainer.

Alongside technical programmes, the equally critical Leadership and Management, Developing Leaders and High Potential programmes support those at all levels of leadership within the business, supporting strategic succession plans.

From apprenticeships to undergraduate and compliance qualifications, Coleg Sir Gâr has supported the company. One of its apprentices won a gold medal in Industrial Electronics at the WorldSkills competition. 

Staff turnover is low with 16 employees reaching 40 years’ service in the last year. 

“The passion this organisation demonstrates towards the achievement of qualifications is commendable,” said Caroline Newman, Coleg Sir Gâr’s assistant principal, who praised Gestamp’s school links. 

In addition to the VQ awards ceremony, learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events that engage with learners of all ages on VQ Day. 

Vocational qualifications are important to the economy, companies and individuals, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.  

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “A VQ award is a symbol of dedication towards a chosen profession, demonstrating to others a real commitment towards personal and professional development.

“The awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers, learners and trainers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. 


For more information please contact Claire Roberts, CollegesWales, on Tel: 029 2052 2500 or 07534 859426, or Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818 or 07779 785451.


Event has fashion sewn-up in style



A fashion and textiles event is being held in Carmarthen, which is being organised by students at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art. 

Fashion and textiles students have collaborated to create a look book for this event which is open and free to the public.  

The look book is a combination of ideas, samples and illustrations, which will be on public display next month. 

The event, called Collaboration, is being held at the Warren, 11 Mansel St, Carmarthen on Tuesday April 17 from 6pm to 10pm. 

Laura John, a degree honours textile student at Coleg Sir Gâr is organising the event, she said: “Planning this event has been a great experience and I have enjoyed working within a group with wonderful people.” 






Student’s family hope to break record at London Marathon

A Coleg Sir Gâr A-level student and his family are running the London Marathon in the hope of setting a new Guinness World Record for the fastest mother, father and son, to compete at the event. 

Turning 18 two days before the marathon, Sam Richards, a former Glan y Mor pupil now studying maths, computing, physics and further maths at the college’s Graig campus may also be one of the youngest runners this year. 

Sam, and his parents Jackie and Martin Richards are raising money for Aspire, a charity that helps people with spinal cord injuries.

The three hope to raise £6,000 and are more than halfway towards their target with £3,500 already banked for the charity. 

Money has been raised through organising social events, boot fairs, dog classes and horse shows at the family’s riding stables in Pembrey.

Jackie Richards said: “We’re raising money for Aspire as the they provide practical help for those paralysed by spinal injuries and as there is no cure, the majority affected become wheelchair users.

“We’ve recently trained with a 20 mile-plus run and we’ll continue to fundraise and get our running legs ready to hopefully achieve a world record.”

To help with the family fundraising visit,



Pic - Running for Aspire: Coleg Sir Gâr A-level student Sam Richards and his parents Martin and Jackie who are hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest mother, father and son in the London Marathon




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