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Dorothy Koomson Murtaza and Shelley 1200 DSC 0051Pictured: Murtaza Ahmadi, winner of 'Best Reviews Overall' Award with bestselling author Dorothy Koomson (left) and Shelley Cawley, Learning Resources Manager at Uxbridge College.

Hit author Dorothy Koomson, whose bestselling books include My Best Friend’s Girl and The Ice Cream Girls, was the guest of honour at Uxbridge College’s Reading Ahead 2018 awards.

Dorothy signed copies of her book The Beach Wedding, which was given away to student completers of this year’s national challenge which is run by The Reading Agency. She also presented awards and talked about her life and career, including writing stories for her friends when she was still at school! Dorothy is internationally renowned for her novels, which have been included on the Richard & Judy Summer Reads shortlist and made into a drama for ITV. Her most recent book is The Brighton Mermaid published earlier this year.

A total of 900 students took part in the challenge across the college this year including 350 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students based at Hayes as well as Functional Skills students from Uxbridge campus. Dorothy attended signings at LRCs at both sites.

Shelley Cawley, Learning Resources Manager at Uxbridge College, who co-ordinated Reading Ahead this year at the college, said: “It was amazing to have a bestselling author like Dorothy Koomson at the awards ceremonies - she was a real inspiration and a great role model in so many ways. This year Uxbridge College has supported the highest number of ESOL students yet to complete the challenge, and more students in ESOL classes have completed than the total number across college. This is a huge achievement as most ESOL learners were unable to speak, read or write English at the start of their courses.”

Genevieve Clarke from The Reading Agency said: “We are delighted that Uxbridge College continues to have such success with our Reading Ahead programme. We know that it is particularly valued by ESOL learners for whom reading is an ideal pathway to increased vocabulary and comprehension skills.”

This year the challenge has focused on supporting English language skills for ESOL learners and others who needed support in this area, and included students completing some of their reviews in a timed exercise in class to help them prepare for their exams.

Reading material included topical articles about the death of Stephen Hawking and his legacy following his death in March, and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as The Journey by Francesca Sanna, a book based on interviews with refugees and echoing the journeys of a number of Uxbridge College students.

The Reading Agency is a charity supported with funding from Arts Council England. The Reading Agency is the leading charity inspiring people of all ages and all backgrounds to read for pleasure and empowerment. Working with partners, their aim is to make reading accessible to everyone. Reading Ahead, run through public libraries, colleges, prisons and workplaces, is one of a number of initiatives run by the charity to support this aim.

Special Award winners were:

First Completer: Shrilekshmi Suja
6 Reviews In 6 Days Winner: Sabrina Akter Rima
Best Reviews Overall: Murtaza Ahmadi
Best Review: Mohamed Abouelhana

Copy of Hair Show 2018 386From ghastly ghouls to beautiful brides, this year’s Freestyle Hair & Beauty catwalk show gave students a chance to demonstrate their professional skills.

The dynamic Level 2 and 3 Hair, Beauty and Media Make-up students both created and modelled hair, make-up and costume inspired by diverse sources. They even danced, sang and acted in the show, which was performed to friends and family in The Edge theatre at Hayes Campus.

The signs of the Zodiac, Hollywood glamour, 1980s hits such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the forces of nature were among the themes for the night, which was sponsored by Dennis Williams.

Around 150 students took part, spending just two weeks preparing for the show starting with creating mood boards, designing their looks, sourcing and making costumes, learning dance routines and putting it all together on the night.

The show was opened by Performing Arts student Rachel Morgan who sang and played the guitar, and supported by technicians and additional dancers from the department. Lisa Edwards and Tasmen Styles compered the show, which they organised with Cheryl Robinson.

Louise Southam, Head of Hair, Beauty & Hospitality, Early Years and Performing Arts, said: “This was a fantastic show and we are so proud of the professionalism of everyone who took part. It is so impressive that not only do they create their looks from scratch but take part as models and performers no matter how shy and retiring they might be in their usual roles! This annual show is a fantastic showcase for the whole range of Hair and Beauty skills and great experience for everyone.”

For more pictures see:

Mark Collins Hayes Photo 1 IndustryThe Our Hayes Our Heritage Project and Hyatt Place West London/Hayes are proud to present an exhibition of photographs taken in and around Hayes by local photographers in a free two-week public exhibition at Hyatt Place West London/Hayes, 4–17 June 2018.

There will be an evening reception and prize-giving on 8 June 2018, 6-8pm – both the exhibition and prize-giving are free and open to all, so please do come along, celebrate with us, meet the photographers and show your support for local artistic talent.

The exhibition includes a selection of images commissioned especially for the Our Hayes Our Heritage project taken by local professional photographer, Toby Van de Velde. Also on display are the three prize-winning entries from our photography competition, alongside the shortlisted entries and further works by burgeoning local talent.

First prize goes to Mark Collins for his evocative piece, ‘Industry’. “It really speaks to me of the area’s historical position in industry,” said competition judge, Toby Van de Velde. “In black and white it gives a grainy, well composed vision of the heart of Hayes’ working heritage.”

Second prize goes to Michael Gaga-Hale for his capture of the early morning commute. “It’s atmospheric lighting and silhouetting of modern day commuters coming and going to work from Hayes and Harlington Station juxtaposes against the first place image very well. A complimentary pair,” Toby explains.

Third prize goes to Annette Sissons for her atmospheric shot of Nipper. “EMI, and Nipper the dog, have such an important place in the history of Hayes,” said Toby. “The moody sky against the harsh industrial buildings with Nipper filling the foreground works well.”

The Our Hayes Our Heritage project is led by Uxbridge College and supported by A New Direction, Hillingdon Community Trust funded by Heathrow, Segro & Barratt London. The project utilises the industrial heritage of Hayes, with a focus on EMI, Nestle and the Grand Union Canal, as a springboard for local cultural activity. The project aims to enhance community cohesion, bringing together different groups and ages through the exploration of local heritage.

As part of the project, Toby facilitated two film photography workshops – one with Age UK Hillingdon and one with young carers from Hillingdon Carers at Hayes and Harlington’s Young People’s Centre – and also led a film photography walk from Botwell Green Library around Hayes Town, encouraging locals to use their cameras to pay attention to the town and see it with fresh eyes, documenting places and faces.

“As a Hayes resident for five years, and a Hillingdon Borough resident for 11 years, plus a photographer on the Uxbridge Gazette for 13 years, I know Hayes very well,” said Toby, speaking about his involvement in the project. “The opportunity to be involved in the Our Hayes Our Heritage Project was one that I was very pleased to be given.

“The wealth of diversity in Hayes, coupled with its history, makes it a fascinating area, and the chance to be involved in documenting its residents and scenery is one that I have very much enjoyed doing.

“The enthusiasm shown by the participants in the photography courses was amazing to witness, and the changing face of the area as I document the old and the newly developed side by side, shows that Hayes is a place that not only has history, but also has a future as well.

“The resultant exhibition and online resource that will come from the work I am involved in, will be a source of fascination and delight for generations to come, I am sure.”

Find out more about the Our Hayes Our Heritage Project, share your own photos and memories quoting #ourhayesourheritage and get involved:

glyph logo May2016 @ourhayesourheritage


Our thanks go to Hyatt Place West London/Hayes for hosting the exhibition. The Hyatt team also recently hosted work by local artist Komal Madar and Uxbridge College Art and Design students – it is wonderful to see a local business supporting arts and heritage and engaging with the local community in this way.


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