Posted on 13 December 2017
Guest of Honour, Steve Backshall
One of the UK’s best known wildlife presenters and adventurers, Steve Backshall, joined graduates and award winners of all ages to help celebrate their outstanding achievements at the recent Guildford College Group Graduation and Awards Ceremony at G Live.
Local-born Steve shared his career journey with the audience, from the dance floors of Strictly Come Dancing to the mountain tops of Borneo, where he faced his toughest rock climb yet. Steve had to overcome many challenges during this expedition, and was confronted with the hardest decision of his career so far. Whilst precariously clinging to a dangerous rock face, Steve was confronted with an undocumented ant mimicking Tiger Beetle, but with no way of capturing it, had to make the difficult decision to leave it behind. Since then, not a day goes by that he doesn't think about that decision and Steve shared with the audience the important message that there is nothing worse than a missed opportunity!
His speech motivated and encouraged the students, and other audience members, to tackle any challenges they may face and to not let tough decisions keep them from reaching their full potential.
Officially opening the ceremony, Jacki Hughes, Principal and Chief Executive of the Guildford College Group, gave a motivational speech to the audience about dreaming big, with the message “don’t be afraid to be ambitious.” She also talked about the College’s other notable achievements and awards throughout the academic year, including WorldSkills gold medallist and previous Hair and Media Make-up student, Anna Lumsden, and Merrist Wood College Arboriculture students who finished in first place at this year’s Arboricultural Association Arborist Tree Challenge.
Those who had received Foundation Degrees, Higher National Certificates, Higher National Diplomas, Degrees and Professional Qualifications donned caps and gowns and processed across the stage to receive commemorative certificates from the Principal, Steve Backshall and the Deputy Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Mike Parsons. Later in the event 11 individual students from Guildford, Merrist Wood and Farnham Sixth Form Colleges received special Student of the Year awards for outstanding academic achievement, or for conquering adversity to succeed in their studies.
The award-winning students were Sarah Bird, Jessica Daniels, James Dillon, Georgina Francis, Jed Hodge, Decland Piper, Joanna Prichard, Jasper Sandford-McFadden, Amy Shadrake, Laura Spackman, and Jennie Spear. They were sponsored by Lloyds Bank, Rokers, Baroness Margaret Sharp, Big City Banners, Eagle Radio, Air Social, Surrey Police, Old Farnhamians’ Association, Merrist Wood Equine Centre, Fleurametz and RSM,
The students demonstrated some incredible stories of achievement; including mother-of-three Sarah Bird, who completed her Apprenticeship in Children and Young Peoples Workforce - Early Years Educator, whilst working full-time and volunteering in the week for Rainbows and Brownies. Jennie Spear demonstrated excellent commitment to her studies after giving birth to her second child during her time at Guildford College, and achieved a First Class Honours degree in Early Childhood Studies. Meanwhile, Laura Spackman received a distinction grade for her Higher Diploma in Floristry, despite suffering from chronic renal failure and sitting her practical exam whilst waiting for her kidney transplant operation. Laura has now progressed on to the Masters Diploma in Professional Floristry.
The ceremony was opened and closed with performances by the College’s talented Performing Arts students.
See photos from the ceremony here...