15th July 2011
A promising Coleg Gwent fashion designer has been presented with an award for outstanding achievement in memory of a former student.
Ex-Coleg Gwent student Sebastian Neale tragically passed away in 2009 aged 26. Sebastian had Asperger’s Syndrome and struggled with social skills, but flourished with the support of Coleg Gwent and used his considerable academic talents to go on to university. Following Sebastian’s death, his family dedicated a student achievement award to the College in his memory, recognising the place where he came into his own.
Now in its second year, the Sebastian Neale Award was recently presented to art & design student Sam Vermeire by Sebastian’s family. The award recognises not only outstanding achievement, but also students who have gone the extra mile or overcome barriers to learning. National Diploma Art & Design (Fashion & Clothing) student Sam, 18 from Crickhowell, was chosen for the award by Crosskeys Campus art and media staff for his excellent achievement throughout his course.
Staff were also impressed by Sam’s positive attitude and perseverance as he overcame extremely difficult personal challenges, and began to develop in confidence as well as ability. Before starting College Sam experienced learning difficulties which affected his studying, bullying and the passing away of his mother, but was determined to succeed at College to make his dad proud and put his difficulties behind him.
Sam has always had an interest in fashion, and has shown me designs he sketched from a very young age,” said Sam’s Lecturer Emma-Louise Morgan, who nominated him for the award. “He’s constantly improving and experimenting with design and illustration, and his inspirational determination to succeed really sets him apart.”
“His really glamorous and beautiful clothes have become his signature style and his skills have become very advanced in the production part of the process.”
“Despite the challenges that he’s faced, Sam worked very hard, was never late, produced quality work and was always ready to laugh,” said Emma-Louise.
“Sam’s understanding of fashion has developed so fast because he has a real passion for and interest in the subject. We wish him the very best of luck at university and in his future career.”
Sebastian Neale’s mum Jennifer, presented the award to Sam at the Crosskeys Campus end of term art and design show, she said: “Giving the award is a way of continuing the memory of our son Sebastian, and to recognise the positive work the College continues to do, inspiring and encouraging current students.
“Sam is an extremely deserving winner and talented student, who worked very hard to achieve success at College. The award gives him the recognition he deserves for approaching his work with true bravery and dedication, and we wish him all the best for the future.”
A delighted Sam, who will study fashion design at the University of Rochester in Kent in September, said: “It has been amazing to be recognised in this way.
“It was such a big shock, but an incredible way to end my time at Coleg Gwent before university.
“The award has made me feel so valued and given me an extra bit of confidence, and I’m just very happy to have made my dad so proud!”
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