Weston-super-Mare became a sea of mortarboards on Saturday 15 September as more than 500 students graduated from University Centre Weston (UCW).
The graduates were joined by their loved ones and lecturers for graduation ceremonies in St John the Baptist Church and drinks receptions in the Winter Gardens Pavilion.
Hundreds more people took part in the celebrations by watching the proceedings on a big screen in the town’s Italian Gardens, and also by cheering on the processions of graduates and academics between the venues.
Attendees were also treated to live music by Weston Brass Band and The Street Dixie Band, and the whole day was streamed live around the world on the UCWeston Facebook page.
The ceremonies themselves saw the graduates collect their degree certificates and take part in traditional mortarboard tosses.
The graduates and their more than 1,000 guests also enjoyed inspiring keynote speeches by Weston College Group Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips CBE and conservationist, adventurer and Britannia Trophy 2018 winner Sacha Dench.
Dr Phillips CBE said: “Our 2018 graduates have achieved the best results in our history and I couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.
“All summer I’ve been hearing about the great careers that many of them have already embarked upon and I’m really looking forward to hearing more UCW success stories in the future.
“I’m so pleased that we were able to host these wonderful celebrations to reward our graduates and their loved ones.
“I’m also grateful to North Somerset Council, the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and our university partners, as higher education in Weston and fantastic events such as these wouldn’t be possible without their support.”
Thirty per cent of Honours students at UCW achieved first class degrees this year, which is significantly above the national average, including 85% of those who graduated with an Honours degree in Games and Animation Production.
UCW funded Farhath Siddiqui’s stunning short film ‘Mannequin’ earlier this year and she repaid the faith by achieving a first class degree in Lens-based Media.
She is now working in the film industry as a production assistant for Speed Communications.
Also from the UCW creative arts courses, Ellie Rialas graduated on Saturday with a first in Professional Music Performance and Production – a year after one of her music videos went viral and she earned a professional endorsement from Tanglewood Guitars.
UCW Student of the Year Bradley Cousins achieved the highest marks in the history of Applied Computing at UCW and is now working in a technology role for Western Power Distribution.
Course mate Matthew Fielder also achieved a first and has now secured a job as a software developer in Tokyo, Japan.
Josh Shapland, who started on an apprenticeship at Weston College in 2013 and is now working for educational organisation IntoUniversity, graduated on Saturday with a first in Early Years Education.
Jess Darby missed out on a first on the same course by just one per cent, which is a remarkable result as she had to take time off from UCW to care for her father who was seriously injured in a car crash earlier in the year.
Happily, Jess was able to graduate as planned and was joined on Graduation Day by her fiancé, mother and father, who is recovering from the injuries to his hand, knee and wrist.
Saturday was also a memorable day for Lauren Pendleton and her mother Joanne as they were able to watch each other graduate with degrees in Uniformed and Public Services and Early Years Education respectively.
UCW delivers its more than 45 degree-level courses in partnership with Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England, Bristol.