College celebrates outstanding success of 18 learners at historic annual Freemen and Guilds Awards

Cheshire College – South & West recently celebrated the academic and personal achievements of 18 learners and Apprentices from across the region, at their annual Freemen and Guilds Awards. The historic annual awards ceremony was held at Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port Campus on Wednesday 6 November 2019.

The Freemen and Guilds Awards began in 1968, however the medieval Guilds have been associated with the recruitment and training of Apprentices for centuries. The prizes are considered as a renewal of a historic bond between the Guilds and Education and symbol of encouragement and esteem for young people.

The Freemen and Guilds is made up of 23 companies including the Joiners and Carvers Company, Saddlers and Curriers, Cappers, Pinners, Wierdrawers and Linen Drapers and Barber Surgeons, Wax and Tallow Chandlers Company.

After celebrating 50 years of successful partnership in 2018, The Freemen & Guilds of the City of Chester approached Cheshire College – South & West with an idea to commission a ceremonial mace that could be used for events throughout the year.

This presented a unique opportunity for learners and staff across various departments within the

College to collaborate on this prestigious project. The project was launched as a competition for Art & Design learners to conceptualise a mace that reflected the rich history of Chester and which would embrace both traditional and contemporary features in its construction.

The chosen concept, designed by Oliver James, 19, from Chester, was based upon the historic Chester High Cross which stands in front of St Peter’s Church at the junction of Watergate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street, as site known as the Chester Cross.

Oliver said: “I am so happy to have been presented this award and recognised for my artwork. My inspiration for this design came from the City of Chester. I walk through the City every day and one of the most iconic landmarks in Chester for me, is the Chester Cross. The design of the Mace is similar to the Chester cross as it’s a beautiful sculpture and represents Chester extremely well.”

Iain Costall, Lecturer in Construction at the College was able to turn Oliver’s design to reality. With the help of his learners, they were able to create the incredible design using recycled materials.

Iain commented: “It was an honour for the Construction Department to be given the commission to produce the Mace for the Freemen and Guilds of the City of Chester. It gave us the opportunity to utilise the skills of learners and tutors to manufacture the ceremonial mace, using traditional methods, that the Freemen would be proud of.

“To incorporate an element of the College’s history, we used reclaimed wood from worktops used in the science labs of the former College buildings of Chester Campus, which date back to the mid-1950s, when the original building was constructed.

“We are delighted with the finished product!”

Another successful learner was Isabelle Cecere, 18, from Chester, who won the Weavers Award. Isabelle said: ‘’It feels amazing to have won such a prestigious award and it’s a great honour to have been nominated by my tutors. It was an incredible feeling when I received the news.

‘’When I joined the College, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but with the help from my tutors and the experiences I have had there, I now have an incredible platform to start my career. I am hoping to attend university in Liverpool next September to study a Fashion course.

“I’ve loved my time at College, if I could go back and do it again – I would!”

Award winners and their guests arrived at the ceremony to be greeted by Hospitality and Catering learners serving a selection of delicious drinks and canapes, that they had made themselves.

Dhesi, Principal and CEO at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “This is a very special evening for Cheshire College – South & West. These Awards are a long-standing tradition that recognises the historic link between our College and the Freemen and Guilds.

“The Ceremonial Mace is beautifully designed by Oliver and it’s an incredible achievement for Iain and the Construction Department.

“It is an honour to be celebrating another year of partnership with the Freemen and Guilds and a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the achievement of our learners.

“We are immensely proud of the winners who have demonstrated that through hard work and dedication, you can achieve your academic and personal goals. Well done everyone!”

If you are interested in studying at Cheshire College – South & West, or for more information, call 01270 654654 (Crewe Campus) 01244 656555 (Ellesmere Port & Chester Campuses) or visit