Pic 2Auckland Castle provided the stunning backdrop for Bishop Auckland College’s showcase Higher Education graduation ceremony last night.

The graduates have completed a range of Level 5 qualifications, including Higher National Diplomas in Music, Sports Coaching & Development, Performing Arts, and Public Services, as well as Higher Level Apprenticeships in Management, and Business & Professional Administration.

Several of the students will in September move on to Sunderland University and Teesside University to complete their honours degrees in subjects including sports coaching, music and performing arts.

They include talented singer-songwriter Craig Roddam, from Tudhoe, near Spennymoor, who has combined his HND in Music with performances at a range of venues across the North-East and in several talent competitions.

In April he won the TFM Cash for Kids Big Audition held at Middlesbrough’s Hazel Pearson Theatre, and will perform in front of 10,000 people at the Christmas Live show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle in December. The 27-year-old will be sharing a bill with some of the biggest names in music – last year the event was headlined by Olly Murs and in 2014 by Ed Sheeran.

Other graduates looking forward to exciting new careers include HND Public Services graduate Nicole Clarke, who is set to join the RAF and become a military police officer, and former Sunderland AFC player Adam Mitchell who has secured work as a sports coach during his course and hopes to become a PE teacher after completing his honours degree.

Graduates already in work whose studies will aid their personal development include Helen Carr, a former Bishop Auckland College apprentice who went on to secure a full time position in the HR department at Thorn Lighting, and Rosina Jones, a manager at Dunelm Optical.

Meanwhile colleagues Sandra Roberts, Marie Robson and Angie Cooke, who work for the Pioneering Care Partnership, have all qualified with their Higher Level Apprenticeships in Management.

Addressing the ceremony at the castle’s historic St Peter’s Chapel, Bishop Auckland College Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison told the graduates they should all feel very proud of their achievements.

She said: “Your learning and achievements with us represent one critical step along the way towards your future opportunities, careers and success and the future prosperity of your families. You can all feel justifiably proud of what you have achieved and I know how much dedication, work and passion many of you have committed to your studies.”

An open evening is being held at the college’s main Woodhouse Lane campus from 5.30pm to 7.30pm next Tuesday (July 12) where prospective students can enrol on a wide range of full and part time further and higher education courses starting this September. For more details visit bacoll.ac.uk/event/open-evening/