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Graduation celebrations kicked off in style this week with a double event at one of Redcar’s historic attractions.

For some it had been a year in the waiting, but higher education students from Redcar and Cleveland College finally got the chance to shine a spotlight on their achievements.

In caps and gowns, the college’s class of 2020 and 2021 celebrated at the newly restored Grade II listed Kirkleatham Walled Garden.

With last year’s college graduation postponed due to the pandemic, principal Jason Faulkner said: “What a fantastic way to finally be able to recognise our students’ remarkable achievements in what has proven to be a challenging two years.”

Both humbled and proud of their determination and achievements, he added: “It’s incredible to see those here today, able to celebrate with friends and family.”

Redcar and Cleveland College works in partnership with Teesside University to offer higher education courses, including HNCs, HNDs, foundation and full honours degrees.

The graduation ceremony saw 76 students celebrating their personal success today; among them Redcar and Cleveland College’s own programme area lead for sport, public services and service industries, Kelly Coupland.

Receiving a BA (Hons) in Education and Training and valedictory speaker for the class of 2021, she said: “As teachers we are always trying to encourage people to continue to learn throughout their lives.  That is exactly what I have been doing, increasing my knowledge and personal development.”

Faced with the demands of juggling her studies around the demands of the day job, as well as studying in lockdown, she said: “This was something I wanted to do for me.

It has been both challenging and rewarding.”

Valedictory speaker for the class of 2020, Amy, also celebrated achieving her BA (Hons) in Education and Training. The Redcar mum-of-one said: “Despite the fact that we have waited over a year to graduate, it has been worth the wait.”

Now having achieved her ambition of working as a primary school teacher, she said: “It seemed like an impossible goal at first, there were times when it felt like too much of a mountain to climb. But before you know it, you have done it, and here I am!”  

Seeing students celebrate in the grounds of the Kirkleatham Walled Garden which re-opened its doors to visitors in August this year, general manager, Kelly-Ann Wolfe, said: “We were really excited to welcome graduates from Redcar and Cleveland College.

“The garden has been fully restored it to its former glory and we’re thrilled that our Turner Pavilion provided the backdrop for the graduation. We wish all those graduating every success in their future careers.”

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