HARTLEPOOL witnessed its first graduation ceremony when a 140-year-old college celebrated students’ degree success.
Dozens of certificates were handed out in Christ Church in front of Hartlepool dignitaries, teaching staff and proud families during Cleveland College of Art & Design’s joyous event.
It was a unique experience for the town and took place due to the college forming links with Arts University Bournemouth, which is now its validating partner.
Martin Raby, principal of the college that started in 1874 as West Hartlepool, said: “The fact that we are able to have the first graduation ceremony in Hartlepool for the college’s students is a result of the university’s support.”
He added: “Seven score years ago the staff of the fledgling West Hartlepool School of Art could not have foreseen this day when classes began.”
Mr Raby was also full of praise for Hartlepool Borough Council’s support of the college and allowing the graduation ceremony to take place in Christchurch.
The college, which also has a campus in Middlesbrough, has seen 120 students graduate this year with 55 of those attending the ceremony.
Next year there are expected to be around 200 students celebrating.
Among this year’s cohort was Alex Robinson, who achieved a degree in photography and is now looking to find work in London.
The 21-year-old. from the High Tunstall area of Hartlepool. said: “It’s been an honour to graduate here today. It’s great to be part of a piece of history.
“I looked into going other places like Newcastle but the facilities are really good here and I’m glad I stayed. It is the best at what it does.”
Katie Devine, 22, received a foundation degree in commercial photography, and already has her own business – Katie Devine Photography – in Church Street doing portraits and covering events.
Katie, who lives in Hartlepool town centre, said: “It has been brilliant, and it is great that I can do this in my own town.
“I have loved every moment of it.”
Hartlepool DJ Sean Anthony Vincent was delighted with his degree in graphic communication.
The 20-year-old from the Clavering area said: “It was very challenging but well worth the effort.
“It has felt really homely to graduate here and like I’m part of the community.”