College News

European students welcomed at Coleg Sir Gâr

Coleg Sir Gâr has welcomed European students to its Graig campus again this year with some students having travelled from as far as Estonia to study AS levels at the college.

The placement for the four students has been organised in conjunction with My Education and they are being supported with their language and academic skills by A-level staff.

Laura Serafini from Bolzano in Italy is studying graphics, art, English and history.  Kirstine Lykke Ravn is from Vejle in Denmark and is studying law, sociology, world development and religious studies.  Thies Kiesow from Rotenburg in Germany is studying computing, history, ICT and photography.  They all want to improve their English language skills and learn more about the Welsh culture.

Raito Piirisild from Estonia is studying physical education, chemistry, textiles and biology.  He said: “I’m here because I want to study English and improve my English skills as I want to be successful and in Estonia if you know how to speak English, it helps improve your success.

“We would all also like to know about Welsh culture, food, people and traditions.”


Pic: European students at Coleg Sir Gâr, from left, Raito Piirisild from Estonia, Kirstine Lykke Ravn from Denmark,  Laura Serafini from Italy and  Thies Kiesow from Germany.


Driving Wales to international skills success

As Skills Champion for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.  

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’s top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.  

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation.  These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.  

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary.  He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011.  Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015. 

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show - the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’s economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE) which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level. “Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales. “Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”


Pic: The four Welsh competitors at the House of Commons' official send off for WorldSkills Team UK (Abu Dhabi 2017)

Entry level students inspired by prince

Entry level gardening students from Coleg Sir Gâr visited the National Botanic Garden of Wales where they met Prince Edward in a bid to inspire them into taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award.

Held at the college’s Ammanford campus, entry level courses are designed to equip students with additional needs with life and work skills, to promote independence.  As part of their course, students are encouraged to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, which can be tailored to meet individual needs.

Matthew Jones, entry level lecturer and Duke of Edinburgh coordinator at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford campus, said: “With an interest in gardening, we thought it would be useful for our group to take part in activities at the National Botanic Garden of Wales whilst learning about the Duke of Edinburgh award which I think is important for our students as it builds confidence and esteem.

“The group really enjoyed the day, meeting Prince Edward and taking part in activities at the garden, looking at water wildlife, working alongside other schools and learning about tropical plants.”



Entry level students from Coleg Sir Gâr meeting Prince Edward and learning about wildlife and horticulture at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in a special event marking the Duke of Edinburgh’s diamond celebrations.


Competing for UK at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi

A talented web designer and a chef-de-rang from Carmarthenshire are preparing to represent Coleg Sir Gâr and the UK at the WorldSkills international competition in Abu Dhabi this month.

Former Coedcae student Elizabeth Forkuoh rose through the competition ranks at Coleg Sir Gâr where she studied hospitality, supervision and leadership.  Making such significant headway in UKSkills competitions, she received employment offers from some of the top restaurants in the UK.  She will be competing in the restaurant services category of the competition where she will also be representing her employer, Gleneagles in Scotland, one of the best restaurants in the UK for customer care and food service. 

Alfie Hopkin, a former Glan y Mor student, is studying a computing and IT level three diploma at Coleg Sir Gâr and will be competing in the web design category. Throughout his competition journey, Alfie has received significant training from the college and UKSkills to prepare him for the event including design training at James Good, JavaScript and Clientside training in Norway and pressure testing in Brazil. 

Elizabeth has also undergone professional training at The Ritz, successfully completed a wine appreciation course in London and attended a training event in Taiwan. She also won a British Education award when she was at college and working part-time at the Stradey Park Hotel.  

Alfie Hopkin is excited to be travelling to the United Arab Emirates.  “I feel ecstatic,” he said. “It’s insane how fast this has all come around, I’m really excited to go and I think that the training I have undergone over recent months has definitely benefited me in terms of making me more employable. Hopefully I will be able to show I can compete with the best in the world.”

Elizabeth Forkuoh said: “It's still hard for me to believe that I will be representing the UK in restaurant service in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in just two weeks. I am so proud of myself, I never thought I would make it this far and this has shown me that hard work really does pay off. I am feeling more determined than ever and I am going for gold!”

Tracy Senchal, headteacher at Coedcae Comprehensive School, said: “We are extremely proud of Elizabeth. There is no doubt that she is a very talented young lady, with a bright future ahead. Coedcae School sends Elizabeth our very best wishes for Abu Dhabi. It certainly is a wonderful opportunity for her to showcase her outstanding skills. Good luck Elizabeth.”

Coleg Sir Gâr principal Barry Liles is a passionate supporter of skills competitions and as Skills Champion for Wales is thrilled for the college and the Welsh competitors. “WorldSkills on an international level is held every two years,” he said.  “It’s been an intense but ultimately beneficial journey for our competitors training for Team UK, which has resulted in a prestigious job opportunity for Elizabeth so I’m very excited to be able to support my own students and those competing from Wales, at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi.”

The college’s partner schools play a vital role in nurturing students and providing them with a pre-college foundation. Lorraine Brown, a previous form tutor of Alfie Hopkin at Glan y Mor school, said: “Alfie is a delightful young man who deserves the recognition for his hard work, perseverance and achievement so far. I wish him all the luck in the world for this latest competition.” 


Alfie Hopkin and Elizabeth Forkuoh will be competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi representing the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in web design and restaurant services

Notes to editor

• This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr

• WorldSkills Abu Dhabi takes place 15 – 18 October

• Meet Team UK 2017, Abu Dhabi   

• To give a flavour of the event - WorldSkills Sao Paula, 2015 (opening ceremony


Duke of Edinburgh students meet Prince Edward

Students following the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award at Coleg Sir Gâr brushed shoulders with royalty recently as they met Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales.

The event was a continuation of the celebrations of the Duke of Edinburgh award’s diamond celebrations which invited young people from the county to take part as Carmarthenshire is one of the scheme’s best performing local authorities.

Tanya Knight, lecturer & DofE leader at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “We were honoured to take our students to this inspirational event where they couldalso take part in team building activities and volunteer work within the gardens.”




Coleg Sir Gâr students taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh celebration event at National Botanic Gardens of Wales.

Coleg Sir Gâr lecturer Tanya Knight with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex at the Duke of Edinburgh celebration event at National Botanic Gardens of Wales.


Hairdressing students to compete at Miss Teen GB

An apprentice hairdresser and a full-time hairdressing student both studying at Coleg Sir Gâr will be competing for the Miss Teen Great Britain and the Miss Teen Junior Great Britain this October.

Emily Coombes (right), currently the title holder of Miss Teen Carmarthen, works at Blush Salon in Carmarthen and studies at Coleg Sir Gâr every Monday whilst Kelsey Lloyd-Jones (left), title holder of Miss Junior Teen Ammanford, is studying hairdressing full time.

The competition aims to offer a positive and confidence-building experience for young girls and teenagers.  

Kelsey and Emily have been fundraising for Together for Young Lives Now, a charity which supports children and young people with life-limiting conditions.  

Charlotte Coombes, Youth Access coordinator at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “Emily has raised over a £1,000 through various events including climbing Penyfan in fancy dress and she hopes to raise more. Kelsey has raised money by organising spray tan events and plans many more.”

The Miss Teen GB finals are being held in October in Blackpool.


Click on their names if you would like to donate to Emily or Kesley's Just Giving pages

Sport student selected for Wales U18s academy football team

A sports student at Coleg Sir Gâr has been selected to represent Wales by the FAW in the Wales under 18s Academy Representative Squad.

Sean Howells, who started college this September and plays centre midfield for Coleg Sir Gâr and Carmarthen Town FC, will now play in the FAW Wales 18s trial fixture in a battle between north and south at Latham Park, Newtown. 

Jonathan Garcia, director of football at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “Sean is a hardworking student and we couldn’t have asked for better news at the start of the season and to the college term.”


American university for soccer talented sports students

Two former football academy and sports students at Coleg Sir Gâr are experiencing a university education abroad, playing football in America with the support of Future Elite Sports. 

Iwan Roberts from Burry Port and Grant Stamp from Ammanford, both studied sports diploma courses at college. Grant, 19, opted for sports coaching and development and Iwan, 18, studied  sports science.  

The two progressed to university in the USA where they’re following a full-time football programme whilst studying an internationally recognised degree.

Jonathan Garcia, Coleg Sir Gâr football academy director said: “Iwan and Grant both played for Carrmarthen Town’s development side and showed passion for the game from the beginning of their studies. 

“American universities offer a fantastic experience and state of the art facilities and we wish them both well in their future progression.” 


Students shine at British Riding Club National Championships

Equine management students Sophie Jones and Faye North, who are studying extended diplomas at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Pibwrlwyd campus, represented their local riding clubs at the British Riding Club National Championships in Lincolnshire. 

Briony Cutler, Coleg Sir Gâr equine lecturer, said: “Sophie, from Llansaint and Faye, who is from Llanelli, represented Cwmaman Riding Club and qualified for this event with a brilliant performance over the summer holidays at the area qualifier. 

“Both students rode horses that they have been training with at college, Gateway Welsh Lad (Copper) and Cilrhedyn Krakatoa (Java) and did well considering low fog caused problems with visibility and grip.”

The weekend also consisted of a senior competition in which two Coleg Sir Gâr staff members Ellie Ryan and Briony Cutler took part in. 

Briony Cutler added: “The girls rode exceptionally well and obtained some brilliant scores receiving some excellent comments from the judges. Both riders scored over 65% in their rider tests which is a great achievement at a national competition. 

The equine department is very proud of their performance and achievements and the girls hope to compete again for their club in the British Dressage winter qualifiers next month.” 

Pic: Coleg Sir Gâr equine management students Faye North riding Copper and Sophie Jones riding Java at the British Riding Club National championships with staff members Briony Cutler and Ellie Ryan.



Sports lecturer’s international challenge

A Coleg Sir Gâr sports science lecture will be competing internationally, representing Wales in the ISA Stand Up Paddle boarding World Championships being held in Denmark. 

Jonathan Roberts, 44, is a lecturer at the college’s Graig campus with expertise in anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, nutrition and sports rehabilitation.  

Despite undergoing a hip replacement operation last year due to severe arthritis in both hips, Jonathan is striving ahead. “I train five to six times a week,” he said.  “This involves a mixture of long distance endurance training, sprinting, interval and technical training and varies from flat water to open ocean and wave riding.”

Jonathan Roberts has a background in many sporting disciplines including a number of water sports and he has been involved in paddle boarding for the last two years.

Find out more about Jonathan’s competition journey here




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