Derwen College is proud to have brought students together to participate in the 2024 National Skills Live Competition. Students took part in creative challenges with the theme of ‘Paris Olympic Games 2024,’ and competed across the pathways of Horticulture, Hospitality, Performing Arts, and Retail and Enterprise.

After a vigorous selection process which garnered entries from across England and Wales, successful entrants were invited to compete in person in Derwen College’s purpose-built facilities.

Jennifer Fawcett-Jones oversaw the organisation of the event, believing that “competitions are always a great way to motivate learners and further consolidate their knowledge, skills and behaviour. Importantly, competing against fellow learners from other specialist colleges provides a platform to demonstrate their great skills and dedication.”

David Thompson-Pearce , who helped to coordinate the Hospitality table laying competition, said, “Watching the whole process unfold and come to life has been a rewarding experience. The students should be incredibly proud of the work they’ve put in, from conceiving their creative visions months ago to bringing them to life today. It is especially vital that we are able to host events like these in settings like the Orangery Restaurant, where students can feel truly immersed in an authentic vocational environment.”

He added, “It has been a privilege to meet and share ideas with the representatives of colleges from all over the country. Today we’ve been able to speak and network with people from Sunderland, South Wales, and everywhere in between.”

Students Ruby, Josh and Paige, from Queen Alexandra College, won gold in the Retail and Enterprise visual merchandising competition. Among their range of fantastically presented wares, from nutritional products for athletes to rainbow-coloured leisure wear, judges Sharon Jones and ex-student Mark Williams deemed that the winning stall “produced stunning merchandise in a well thought out display, with a team that supported each other wonderfully.”

Across campus, the Horticulture competition took place under the eaves of our Garden Centre greenhouses. Before the students set to work, adjudicator Paul Moss said, “I’m excited to see what ideas the students have to represent the themes and colours of the Olympic Games.” From intricately woven wreaths in the shape of the Olympic rings, to a miniature Louvre centrepiece, each entry demonstrated a unique and inventive vision. James and Oliver were delighted to have represented one of Derwen College’s teams: “We’re so proud that all of our work has paid off; we’ve created the Mona Lisa of planters!”

In the Student Union hall at Derwen College, students were able to showcase their talents in a variety of solo and group dance exhibitions. It was a tough competition, with Landmarks College winning the group category by only one point. Judges commented, “It was exciting! Great timing! A perfect example of a team: great facial expressions and so much talent!”

The organising team at Derwen college would like to say a big thank you to everybody who travelled here to take part and helped to make the experience so special. If it weren’t for the efforts of students and staff from Landmarks Specialist College, ESPA College, Queen Alexandra College, and Coleg Elidyr, today’s success would not have been possible.