Bridgend College Honorary Fellows

Each year, Bridgend College hosts its Higher Education Awards Ceremony to celebrate students who achieve a higher education qualification, such as HNC/D, Foundation Degree, BA Hons and PGCE.

As part of each ceremony, our Governing Body awards Bridgend College Honorary Fellowships to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to either the College, education or the wider communities across Wales.

2019

Claire Birkenshaw

For her services to education and her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Claire began her secondary school teaching in 1991 after graduating from Hull University with a Degree in Geography and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. She taught in a number of secondary schools across the city of Hull during a 26-year period, culminating in the role of Principal at an Alternative Provision Academy.

Claire left her Principal post in June 2017 and is now a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where she contributes to the Childhood Studies Undergraduate course. She lectures on various aspects of childhood but is particularly concerned with LGBTQ+ inclusion in education and mental health and wellbeing. To further improve LGBTQ+ inclusion Claire has used her knowledge and experience to interact with, across various sectors, numerous organisations both nationally and internationally including Bridgend College. Claire has been a school governor, a trustee of a LGBTQ+ youth charity and is currently an advisory panel member for the Centre for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education at the Carnegie School of Education (Leeds Beckett University). Finally, she is an associate of ‘Independent Thinking’, a patron for ‘Think2Speak’, and is contracted to write a book with Professor Jonathan Glazzard on LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools.

Claire’s work and continued support to the LGBTQ+ Community is absolutely inspirational and we are very proud to call Claire a Bridgend College Honorary Fellow.

David Roberts CBE

For his outstanding contribution to disabled sport.

David is an eleven-time Paralympic gold medalist in swimming; he is one of Great Britain’s most successful Paralympians.

He first represented Wales in a competition in Glasgow in 1993. His first major competition for Great Britain was at the 1999 European Disabled Swimming Championships in Braunschweig, Germany where he won all four of his races. He competed in his first Paralympic Games in Sydney in the summer of 2000.

There he won an impressive haul of seven medals. David went on to compete in several major competitions such as the Athens, Sydney and Beijing Paralympics, Commonwealth Games and IPC World Swimming Championships, winning a whole host of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. David has also set and held onto world record times in his illustrious sporting career.

His achievements at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympics, alongside his previous successes for Great Britain, earned him an MBE for his services to disabled sport in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours. He also made it onto the shortlist of the 2004 BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award. He was later appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.

In winning his 11th gold, David equalled Baroness Grey-Thompson’s record as being Wales’ and Britain’s most successful Paralympian. We are extremely proud that David has accepted the 2019 Honorary Fellowship at Bridgend College. He truly is an inspiration to us all.

2018

Neil Robinson MBE

In recognition of his service to Wales and the community of Bridgend.

GB National Para Table Tennis Coach

With an ambition to qualify as an Electrical Engineer and become a Merchant Navy Officer, Neil began studying a City and Guilds Electrical Engineering course with Bridgend College in 1974. During his third year, aged 18, he suffered a life changing spinal injury, which meant spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. During rehabilitation at the spinal injuries unit in Cardiff, and with a real passion for sport, he tried wheelchair table tennis. His natural ability for the game reignited his sporting ambitions.

Following hospital discharge in 1977, Neil sourced local able-bodied table tennis players to help develop his skills. In 1979, he returned to Bridgend College to study Business Studies, progressing to Swansea and completing a HND in Business Studies where he was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1983.

Neil’s table tennis development continued through the Welsh Paraplegic Association, first representing Wales in 1980. He first represented Great Britain in 1981 and retired after the Beijing Paralympics 2008. During his 27 year career, Neil competed at 7 Paralympics winning 7 medals. Neil was also European Champion 3 times and ranked number one in the world. In 2009, Neil became GB Para Table Tennis National Coach. To date, the players under his guidance have won 3 Paralympic Games medals, 7 World Championship medals and 23 European Championship medals.

In 2012 Neil received an MBE for his services to Disabled sport. He is currently coaching the GB Performance players in the Tokyo 2020 cycle.

Madeleine Moon

In recognition of her service to Wales and the community of Bridgend.

Madeleine Moon is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bridgend since the 2005 general election. Madeleine has lived in Bridgend for over 29 years.

During her time as an MP, she has held a variety of roles and responsibilities. During the previous Labour Government Madeleine sat on the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee between 2005-2007. She then served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Energy and Climate Change Departments between 2007 and 2010.

In 2009, Madeleine Moon joined the House of Commons Defence Select Committee then later in 2010, was elected to the United Kingdom Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Madeleine chairs a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups, including Suicide and Self Harm Prevention, Kidney, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease, Reserves & Cadets, and the RAF section of the Armed Forces Group.

Before her election, Madeleine’s career was in health and social care. She held various positions across South Wales, the last of which was with the Inspectorate for Care Standards. Before her election in 2005 Madeleine also held a number of local political positions within the community. She was a Councillor on Porthcawl Town Council for many years, serving as its Mayor on two occasions. She has also sat on Bridgend County Borough Council and Ogwr Borough Council.

2017

Charles Middleton

In recognition of his services to education and the community of Bridgend.

We were delighted and honoured to award Charles Middleton an Honorary Fellowship for his outstanding contribution to education and development of young people.

Charles was the founder and CEO of Training Services Wales [TSW LTD] for 34 years up to his retirement in 2008. TSW was the platform from which the Fairwood Trust was created, Charles also worked part-time as the director of the trust which he and the trustees formed in 2008.

Charles has always been passionate about the communities in Wales and in particular the education and development of young people from the most deprived areas and backgrounds. The Fairwood Trust provides a vehicle for supporting those in most need and has been significant to the development of the College over the last 5 years by funding the brand new Success Centre in Pencoed. The Trust has also helped with the maintenance of the on-site care and residential facility, Weston House. Charles remains active in the training field in coaching new business starts also in the third sector as Chair of Rhondda Housing Association and Shednet Wales.

Richard Parks

In recognition of his services to sport.

Richard is a world record holding extreme environment athlete, having previously been a Welsh international rugby player. His pioneering expeditions and projects have pushed the boundaries of human performance whilst each having a social or charitable impact. He is a Sport Wales Board Member, award-winning author, BAFTA  nominated television presenter and Visit Wales ambassador.

As a former Welsh rugby international, turned Extreme Environment Athlete Richard first made history in 2011, becoming the first ever person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s 7 continents and stand on all 3 poles (The North Pole, The South Pole and the summit of Everest) within the same calendar year. He completed his world first expedition named The 737 Challenge in under 7 months. A feat which has been recognised by the Guinness World Records and broadcast internationally.

In 2014, Richard became the fastest Briton in history to ski solo and unsupported the 1240km from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, taking 9 days off the previous British record and becoming the first Welshman to complete this iconic feat, which was broadcast on Channel 5 and since internationally. He been identified as one of Britain’s most promising leaders in his selection for the inaugural Franco-British Young Leaders Programme pioneered by the British and French governments.