Left to right: Caroline Welby, Stephen Blyth, the Archbishop, Marion Plant OBE.
The Archbishop of Canterbury praised the work of FE colleges as ‘one of the most important things in education’ as he visited North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College’s Nuneaton campus.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby heard the inspirational stories of many students when he attended the College on Friday, 4 May as part of a four-day trip to Coventry and Warwickshire.
The College was included in his busy itinerary to engage with and encourage young people in Nuneaton, and to discuss the transformative role of further education colleges within communities.
The Archbishop benefited from a demonstration of massage techniques carried out by beauty therapy student, Chaneal Thompson as she told him about her career ambitions to work in a health spa and ‘make her three-year old son proud’.
Floristry students and sisters, Charlotte and Leanne Reading presented the Archbishop with a hand-crafted buttonhole and outlined their plans to set up a florist’s shop when they complete their studies. They even offered to help with the flowers for the forthcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are due to be married by the Archbishop later this month.
The Archbishop told journalism students Hannah Smith and Luke Gurney that he was ‘quite nervous’ about his role in the forthcoming royal wedding and said that Harry and Meghan were ‘a lovely couple’. Hannah and Luke enjoyed getting some live interview practice to help with their studies. They are both aiming to go on to university when they complete their qualifications after which Luke would like to become a sports journalist.
Other college students staged demonstrations of their skills in carpentry, creative arts, handicrafts, hairdressing, and hospitality and catering. The Archbishop said that he felt ‘emotional’ after his warm welcome by members of the student choir who gave a rousing a performance of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, reminding him of his time serving as Dean of Liverpool.
College Principal and Chief Executive Marion Plant OBE FCGI, a trustee of the Church of England National Society Council, discussed the role of further education colleges in promoting social mobility with the Archbishop, as well as the College’s contribution to youth work apprenticeships as a Church of England trailblazer.
She said, “We were thrilled to welcome His Grace to the College to show him what we do so well. His visit was a fantastic opportunity for our students to showcase their talents, and to tell their stories to the Archbishop, and explain how their college experience is helping them to prepare solid foundations for successful future working lives.
“We hope that his visit to the College has helped the Archbishop to understand how well students at all levels can develop with the support of a strong college community. He certainly left us with a sense of deep encouragement and support.
“It was a great privilege for the College to have been chosen for this visit and we hope that the Archbishop and his colleagues have seen the enormous positive impact that further education has on the young people of Nuneaton.”