Students celebrate end of degrees after 'extremely difficult' 18 months

The caps are thrown by the bachelor of engineering class of 2021 after the University of Suffolk at

The caps are thrown by the bachelor of engineering class of 2021 after the University of Suffolk at the West Suffolk College graduation ceremony - Credit: Denise Bradley

More than 200 West Suffolk College students celebrated the end of their degrees after an "extremely difficult" 18 months in a graduation ceremony in Bury St Edmunds.

The classes of 2020 and 2021 gathered in St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Saturday as they celebrated collecting their qualifications.

Graduates parade the ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Graduates parade after the ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - Credit: Denise Bradley

Two ceremonies were held at once as last year's cohort saw their graduation cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

Graduates during the University of Suffolk at the West Suffolk College ceremony, taking place at the

Two ceremonies were held at once on Saturday after the class of 2020's graduation was axed due to Covid - Credit: Denise Bradley

A total of 210 students graduated in a range of subjects and courses - with 100 achieving first class honours and 29 with distinctions in their foundation degrees.

More than 200 students gathered in the cathedral to mark the end of their studies

Graduates during the University of Suffolk at the West Suffolk College ceremony, taking place at the Bury St Edmunds Cathedral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Denise Bradley

The students' degrees have been accredited by the University of Suffolk.

Liam Collis who achieved a first in business and management at the University of Suffolk at the West

Liam Collis who achieved a first in business and management at the University of Suffolk at the West Suffolk College, with his mum, Hazel Dawkins, and his girlfriend, Emily Cameron - Credit: Denise Bradley


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During the ceremonies, the Very Reverend Joe Hawes, Dean of St Edmundsbury gave a welcoming address followed by speeches from Dr Nikos Savvas, chief executive of the Eastern Colleges Group, Tim Greenacre of the University of Suffolk and Dr Christopher Meredith, executive dean of university studies at West Suffolk College.

During the first ceremony, Rae Snape gave a speech to the class of 2020, acting in her role as an honorary fellow.

Dr Nikos Savvas addresses the audience in Bury St Edmunds

Dr Nikos Savvas addresses the audience in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

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Professor Andy Neely OBE, the pro-vice-chancellor of enterprise and business relations at Cambridge University, congratulated the class of 2021 in the second ceremony.

Dr Savvas paid tribute to the students collecting their degrees for the "resilience" they had shown in their studies.

Dominic Whiteley was among the students celebrating the end of their degree

Dominic Wightley was among the students celebrating the end of their degree - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

He said: "I am incredibly impressed by our students' achievements.

"They have shown optimism, resilience and ambition - which not only paves the way for their future success, but will inspire future undergraduates as they continue their learning journey.

"Furthermore, to have over 200 people entering the workforce with the skills and attributes needed to succeed and excel in their chosen careers is fantastic news for the region.

Dr Chris Meredith, Dr Andrew Neely, student of the year Liam Wightley and Dr Nikos Savvas

Dr Chris Meredith, Dr Andrew Neely, student of the year Dominic Wightley and Dr Nikos Savvas - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

"These people are not only enhancing their opportunities by embracing education, but they will also support local businesses and organisations."

Dr Chris Meredith, executive dean of university studies at West Suffolk College, added: "We know that our graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 have overcome extraordinary circumstances to be here today.

"More than ever, after an extremely difficult 18 months, this is now the time for all of us to celebrate and honour their accomplishments." 

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