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A talented Windsor College student has been crowned one of the world’s top young visual merchandisers. Catherine Abbott, who recently completed a retail and merchandising display course at Windsor College and now works for Topshop, won the silver medal for visual merchandising at WorldSkills 2017 – the world’s largest international skills competition for young people.

Catherine (aged 21, from Reading) showcased her skills by designing, planning and creating a stunning window display as part of the four-day competition in Abu Dhabi. Beating contenders from across the globe, Catherine was presented with her medal at a prestigious Olympics-style closing ceremony on 19th October.

Catherine said: “I was in absolute shock when they called my name. This means so much within my industry, I’m sure this will lead to a bright future for me. Big sacrifices were made to get to this point, but it’s been worth all the hard work and effort.”

Catherine took part and triumphed in regional heats, a national final, a Team UK selection process and months of intensive training, to represent the UK in visual merchandising at the 44th WorldSkills Finals.

More than 1,200 young people, from over 50 nations, who are specialist in 51 different disciplines from hairdressing to aircraft maintenance plumbing to 3D Games design, competed for gold, silver and bronze medals. Picking up 20 medals, Team UK finished 10th in the medals table ahead of Germany and was the smallest team to make the global top 10.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton MP, who visited the competition to support WorldSkills UK and the team, said:

“I have been blown away by Team UK. They have done fantastically well – this is the UK competing on the World stage for skills and achieving great things.

 “There is a message here for parents – university is not the only option – the opportunities are boundless if they overcome any bias that they might have. We must ensure that the young apprentices here become an inspiration to others.

 “WorldSkills UK is doing a fantastic job supporting these young people – with thousands of hours of input. We need to put all that they are doing - the ethos of this competition, the spirit of these apprentices- into a bottle and sprinkle it across the UK.”

 The Retail and Merchandising Display Department at Windsor College is a centre of excellence for visual merchandising and display design. The courses are highly respected within the industry and former students have gone onto successful careers with leading retailers such as Harrods, John Lewis and Debenhams.

 Sue Leadbeater, lecturer at Windsor College, enthuses: “We are absolutely delighted for Catherine and we are all very proud of her. It has been great to see her develop her skills and grow in confidence. She is a talented individual with a bright future ahead of her.”

 Catherine follows in the footsteps of fellow Windsor College student Kirsty Hoadley, who won the gold medal in visual merchandising at WorldSkills London 2011.

 Windsor College is part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, which was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in Egham. For further information on Windsor College and its wide range of creative courses, please click here or call 01753 793000.

Published in Retail Merchandising

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Talented visual merchandising students from Windsor College have created an inspirational piece of interactive art for Windsor Baptist Church in Victoria Street. The vibrant tree-themed artwork, which has been sensitively designed to reflect the values and diversity of the church, was officially unveiled on Tuesday (13th June 2017).

The three students, Frankie Di Gangi, Manisha Kumar and Diya Seepaul, who are all studying a level three course at the College in St Leonard's Road, designed and constructed two six foot trees to adorn the quiet balcony area of the church. As well as providing a beautiful back drop for the space, the colourful trees have been specially devised, so those visiting the church can write a thought, feeling or prayer on a leaf and hang it on one of the trees as a way to express themselves or connect with the church.

Student Frankie Di Gangi (aged 19), said: “We are really proud we have created something for the community for local people to enjoy. We’ve never done anything quite like this before and the experience has taught us a lot about teamwork and working to a client brief.”

Kate Saunders, Community Pastoral Manager at Windsor Baptist Church, explains: “We had an idea about creating some artwork for the Church and approached the College after seeing the beautiful window displays created by their students. The students visited us to understand how the space is used by the community and what we were looking to achieve.”

“The ideas the girls came up with were so good. We’ve had a very positive response from people who have seen it, with many commenting on how it joins the different areas of the building together. It is something that is going to be used and loved by the community for years to come.”

Windsor Baptist Church is truly a space for the community, being used by a wide range of different groups including the Windsor Homeless Project, Street Angels, UP Depression and Anxiety Group, Blossoms Ballet, Rattle ‘n’ Roll Drama Group and a local rock choir. The Church also includes the popular Treehouse Café, which is open six days a week. For more details, click here.

Windsor College, part of East Berkshire College, has an extensive art department that includes facilities for fine art, graphics, 3D design, photography, media production, fashion, interior design and visual merchandising. The College also offers a wide range of A Levels as well as specialist courses in performing arts, science, accountancy and business.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses available, click here or call 01753 793000.

Published in Retail Merchandising

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Fabulous fashion, sustainable furniture, larger than life puppets and thought-provoking animations were all part of an exciting art and design exhibition showcasing the work of talented students at East Berkshire College’s Windsor Campus recently.

Running from Monday 20th June to Friday 24th June 2016, the end of year show featured an impressive array of artwork in various media and styles.

Reflecting the individuality and creativity of the students from across the College’s range of creative courses, the work on display included 3D design, abstract paintings, printmaking, photography, graphic design, animation, textiles and visual merchandising.

The show featured a mix of work produced by students on the College’s A Level, vocational and community courses including A Level Fine Art, A Level Photography, BTEC Foundation Diploma, BTEC Art & Design Level 2 and Level 3 courses, BTEC Media, BTEC Interactive Media as well as Visual Merchandising and Interior Design.

Paul Ryan, a senior lecturer at East Berkshire College, commented: “On display is a wide range of work which includes fine art, graphics, 3D design, animation, photography and fashion. All the work has been produced by our students as part of their courses and reflects the great diversity of the areas we offer at the College. The end of year exhibition is a valuable experience for our students, many of who will be going onto a range of university courses, from digital arts to fashion.”

Patrycja Kepka (23, from Slough), who has just completed a level three BTEC art and design course at the College and is looking forward to studying product and furniture design at Kingston University in September, said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time here at college. I’ve been able to really explore my creativity and develop my ideas. I like designing things that are practical as well as artistic, which is why my final piece is a range of furniture inspired by the human skeleton.”

Level three visual merchandising student Irene Lelliott, who created an impressive display inspired by the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was another student exhibiting at the show. She explained: “I was apprehensive about returning to study after 30 years, but the lecturers are incredible. They go above and beyond their roles to help you. I’ve learnt how to create a PowerPoint presentation, put together a portfolio and I’m putting my skills into practice in my job at Farnham Castle.”

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of creative courses, click here or call 01753 793000.

Published in Creative Studies
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:50

A flavour of college life in Langley

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With an array of activities from engineering to hairdressing, the Summer Open Day at Langley College had something for everyone last week. Over 270 prospective students and their families visited the campus to check out the state-of-the-art learning facilities and find out about over 800 courses, which range from beginner right through to degree level.

From sports to childcare, there was a wide variety of demonstrations running throughout the event to entertain and inform visitors. Highlights of the day included the chance to explore the latest virtual reality technology in the College’s Innovation Centre and the opportunity to enjoy the flavours of Asia with a special buffet lunch created by talented catering students. Meanwhile, beauty therapy students showcased their skills by providing manicures and face-painting for visitors in the modern training salons.

Prospective student Melissa Dawson (aged 17) attended the Open Day to check out the College and speak to lecturers: “I was very impressed with the facilities here, they are very high-tech. I had a go at the virtual reality demonstration, which is amazing. It is like being in a different dimension.”

Salon customer Clare Worley, added: “The College is really modern and the salons here are brilliant. It is great that students get to train in a real salon with real customers. It is great for local residents too!”

As well as an array of interactive demonstrations, current and former students along with staff were available to answer questions. For example, visual merchandising student Macauley Crellin (aged 19) was on hand to talk to people about the benefits of studying a Higher Education qualification at college.

Macauley explains: “I completed my Level 3 course at Windsor College, but was unable to go to university straight away as I needed to look after my younger brother. Studying the HNC course part-time at college meant I could still continue my studies to a higher level rather than miss out. It is a very flexible course, so I was able to fit study around my work and family commitments.

“I’ve really enjoyed the course and the opportunities it has given me. I’m now looking forward to moving on to complete my BA Honours Degree in Fashion at Bournemouth University.”

In the College’s impressive Motor Vehicle & Engineering Department, visitors were able to tour the workshops and observe engineering students at work on the College’s new £70,000 CNC milling machine as well as a car restoration project.

East Berkshire College continues to go from strength to strength in terms of raising standards and has recently completed a £30m refurbishment of its Langley College to provide state-of-the-art learning facilities for current and future students. These improvements include new commercial hair and beauty salons as well as a simulated hospital environment.

Each year, the College helps thousands of individuals aged 14-90 to fulfil their ambitions through education and training. The College offers an extensive range of part-time, full-time and workplace training courses, from introductory right through to degree level.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of courses, please call 01753 793000 or click here.

Published in Hair & Beauty

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