Congratulations to the RNC class of 2016/2017!

Image taken of the sports hall where there are several round tables with members of students and staff sitting around each table, talking and laughing. The backs of the chairs are decorated with black covers and silver bows. There is a big screen at the front displaying the letters ‘RNC’.

At the end of every academic year, RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) hosts the annual Celebration of Achievement awards where our students are given their qualification certificates that they have earned during the year. The event is attended by the students’ families, RNC staff and governors, and provides an opportunity for us to look back at some of the best memories over the past year.

Unfortunately, the original date for the Celebration of Achievement awards was December 2017 but, due to the sheer amount of snow falling across the whole country, we had to postpone the awards ceremony and hosted it in March 2018 instead; we really appreciate how understanding the students and their families were in re-arranging the ceremony! The event opened with a tribute to a former student, Kyle Cunningham, who sadly passed away late last year. His friend Michael Fleet said;


“Here at RNC you don’t just have friends you start to become part of a big extended family with your class mates and everyone around you, and suddenly before you know it you’re part of something much bigger.

That’s why it’s always hard to learn that one of your friends from this family sadly didn’t quite get to fulfill what they wanted. Kyle was a big part of the makeup of RNC, renowned for his IT knowledge and impact of those around him, we remember him for his personality and the buzz he gave those around him! Still not quite sure how he always did it but when you saw him he would always have the same attitude of a student who loved to enjoy himself and engage with those around him.

My personal memories of Kyle had to be him and his opinions of the college IT systems! He was a loyal and sound lad who would always have time for those around him, so now I’m going to return that to him, please join me in a round of applause to remember him and what he was all about, gone but definitely never forgotten he will always have his place here at RNC.

Thank you very much and rest in peace Kyle you will always be here in everyone’s hearts.”


After much applause, in memory of Kyle, we were delighted to announce the winners of the awards, as nominated by staff in recognition of our students’ outstanding accomplishments.


RNC Award Winners – Class of 2016/2017


The Prince of Wales award for the student who made best use of their programme goes to… Emily Swinley

“The winner of this year’s award is a remarkable young woman whose learning journey at RNC is nothing short of spectacular. Described as a ‘delight to teach’ and a ‘truly extraordinary young lady’, this individual has battled against the odds to progress from Entry Level qualifications, and having to re-teach herself how to read and write, to having just passed a Level 3 Massage qualification.

The Principal’s award for outstanding contribution to college life goes to… Tiri Hughes

“Her wide range of accolades vary from 2017 Welsh Disability and Welsh Disability Open Gymnastics Champion …, to Guide Dogs Young Persons Achievement Award

She has made a significant contribution to the college community and I am proud to have a student who has secured an offer to study medicine at one of the world’s top universities. We wish her every success in her studies and future career, and thank her for the part she has played in shaping college life during her time here.”


The Mary Graff Award for the student who wrote an outstanding creative composition in response to a work of literature goes to… Michal Wojcik

“This year’s winner imagines an alternative ending to one of our A level texts, a nineteenth century novel: the female protagonist, Edna Pontellier, is rescued from her attempted suicide and committed to a mental hospital. In the opinion of the judges, this was an ambitious and highly competent piece of writing. The analysis of the protagonist and her situation was thoughtful, demonstrating an awareness of her internal conflicts as well as her conflict with the gender conventions of her time.”


The RNC award for contribution to the creative arts goes to… Charlotte Milburn

“To say that this person is a committed and conscientious student is an understatement. Her drive, thirst for knowledge and sheer perspicacity ensure that she is always prepared and able to approach tasks proactively. She attends all additional activities with an open mind and a will to learn, and she happily carries out extra sessions in order to move work forward and prepare materials for future rehearsals. She is always aiming for the highest grade and therefore, invariably, achieves it.”


The RNC award for the best use of work-based learning opportunities goes to… Ben Davidson

“He has made the most of each and every placement, and is a conscientious, diligent worker who always impresses his employers, and who has received generous and well-earnt praise.”


The Nigel Berry Prize for significant progress in Braille goes to… Kim Jeffreys

“Having never learnt Braille before coming to RNC, she picked up the concept quickly, completing her BTEC Level 1 Award within just seven weeks… She completed all three levels of braille in two academic years which must be a record!”

The Fatima Al Muharrami award for contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion goes to… Laura Wilmot

“She was instrumental in establishing a lively and vibrant LGBTQ group, and delivered awareness training to both staff and students to encourage enlightenment and understanding.”


The RNC award for progress in Personal Development goes to… Emma Gaylard

“She is always willing to be the first to contribute to group discussions and she has a strong sense of justice, always having the courage to challenge things which seem unjust.”


The RNC award for achievement in the use of Information Technology goes to… Lewis Smith

“This individual never let anything get in his way, he worked hard to both develop his working medium and gain Distinction grades in his BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma.

There are so many things we could add to this, but the main thing to say about him is that he was an enthusiastic and capable learner, who was a pleasure to teach and deserved the grades he achieved.”


The RNC award for outstanding contribution to Sport goes to… Avram Plesca!

“This learner is an all-round athlete and keen sportsman. The overwhelming thing about this student, however, is not just his natural ability with sport, but his infectious personality, his enthusiasm and his love for being around people and being part of a team. When he is involved, it is always fun for those around him and he is never without a smile on his face.”


The RNC award for outstanding progress in mobility goes to… Matt Odgers

“When this person arrived at RNC he had received no formal mobility training and could only mobilise within and around his own home. He has since independently travelled by train on regular occasions to his home area in Hertfordshire.”

You can read the full nominations of all the winners by downloading the Word document below;

The winners of the RNC Awards Class of 2016-2017 (Word document)


View the Facebook gallery of photos for the RNC Class of 2016/2017 Celebration of Achievement Day


Mark Fisher, RNC Principal, says “I would just like to personally thank everyone for their hard work over the last academic year and congratulate every one of our students for the wonderful achievements, wishing the class of 2016/2017 the best of luck for all their future endeavours.”


If you would like to find out more about what you could achieve by studying with us, please visit the RNC course pages or contact our student enquiries team by calling 01432 376 621 or emailing

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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