USW hosts Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative Awards Ceremony


On 7th July, USW hosted the 24th Awards Ceremony for the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative (WHSI) at Caerleon campus. The event was attended by The Right Worshipful the Mayor and Mayoress of the City of Newport and Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths.

Each year, the Welsh Heritage Schools Trust invites Welsh schools to undertake heritage projects and to submit them for the nationwide heritage competition. The projects require research, collection of materials, analysis and evaluation. They may result in booklets, exhibitions, performances, restoration work, models and materials using IT skills and communications technology. All schools entering the competition are visited by a judging panel and prizes are awarded for the best projects in each category; infant, primary, secondary and special schools.

The awards were presented to the children with generous prizes donated by sponsors including Admiral Group plc, Media Wales, Techniquest and Sir Julian Hodge (Jane Hodge Foundation). St Fagans also provided shields to be awarded to the best entry in each category.


The ceremony was opened by Professor Donna Mead OBE, who highlighted the importance of entering this competition in terms of the students’ future career and study prospects. John Griffiths AM was also welcomed to speak. He said: “It is very fitting for today’s ceremony to be held in Caerleon, which has a rich heritage and strong local identity. Young people learn and develop from heritage. Young people are our future and need to understand our past in order to shape the future themselves. We are very lucky with the young people we have in Wales.”


David Maddox OBE, WHSI Trustee and Judge introduced Carolyn Hitt, Writer and Broadcaster, for the keynote speech. Carolyn said: “We never cease to be amazed and heartened by the way the competition encourages young people to connect with our heritage and the imagination and talent they show in doing so. Wider learning skills such as team work and developing individual confidence are also engendered. And let’s not forget the role of inspirational teaching. While some projects are built into curriculum delivery others are the product of individual teachers giving up their own time at lunchtime or after the school day to organise clubs. Thank you for the wonderful experience of seeing these entries. You are the generation responsible for keeping the Welsh heritage alive.”

Elaine Knight, Senior Lecturer and member of the WHSI Committee acted as compère for the event. She said: “I was so impressed by the entries but one stood out for me. I was particularly inspired by a project from Coleg Gwent; Two AS level students composed letters to each other as if they were writing during the General Strike. To provide the background to their letters they worked closely with Gwent Archives and their own school records. They not only benefitted in terms deepening their understanding of the time but, purely by coincidence, a relating question came up in their exam so they were fully prepared to answer in detail.”

The musical programme for the ceremony was performed by Caerleon Comprehensive School wind orchestra, conducted by Sean O’Neill, Musical Director.

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