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£3 million from Enigma codebreaker for Aberystwyth University research

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AN ABERYSTWYTH graduate who contributed to the breaking of the German Enigma code during the Second World War has left over £3m to her former University.

Originally from Galgate near Lancaster, Joy Welch studied Economics, Geography and Philosophy at Aberystwyth and graduated in 1950.

In 1943, aged 17, Joy volunteered for the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the work took her to Eastcote, an outpost of Bletchley Park.

There she operated the machines used to break the German Enigma code.

In 1988 she established the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust and the University became a regular beneficiary, reflecting her fond memories of her time at Aberystwyth.

Her long-term support was recognised in 1998 when she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University. She died in 2017.

The new endowment totalling £3.15m from the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust was announced today, Friday 13 October, by Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure at the University’s annual Founders Day celebrations.

With the first call for applications due in spring 2024, the fund will provide a minimum of 12 research grants a year for postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers across all disciplines at Aberystwyth University.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure said; “We are absolutely delighted that the ongoing relationship with one of our alumni has supported researchers across disciplines and ranks for so many years. The endowment will make sure that this support continues. In a world where research funding programmes change, favouring certain academic fields and types of projects at different times, the Joy Welch Fund will offer opportunities to all our researchers and so make a valuable difference”.

In addition to supporting postgraduate and postdoctoral research, the Trust has also contributed £170,000 towards establishing the Joy Welch Seminar Room in the Old College.

Research funded by the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust

Over the years, the Trust has provided over £400,000 to fund research at Aberystwyth University.

Dr Otar Akanyeti from the Department of Computer Science, Dr Sarah Dalesman and Dr Sebastian McBride from the Department of Life Sciences, and Dr Alice Vernon from the Department of English and Creative Writing are amongst those who have received support in recent years.

Dr Otar Akanyeti’s work focuses on care for stroke sufferers. Support from the Joy Welch Trust has enabled Dr Akanyeti and his team to secure more than half a million pounds of external funding and are currently running two clinical studies in Aberystwyth and Turkey.

Dr Akanyeti said; “The support from the Joy Welch Trust over the years has enabled us to establish a new research group focusing on improving stroke care pathways using technology and artificial intelligence. We were able to prototype a new gait monitoring technology, engage with stroke patients and their families, disseminate our work in Welsh Stroke Conference and establish new collaborations across the UK and internationally.”

Dr Sarah Dalesman and Dr Sebastian McBride from the Department of Life Sciences have been studying the cognitive abilities of dogs and how they can impact the safety and welfare of dog training.

Dr Dalesman said; “The Joy Welch funding this year has enabled us to buy equipment and employ a student who now plans to pursue a masters’ in this field. It has also led to future research plans to study how, using non-invasive techniques, stress affects dogs’ cognitive ability and performance.”

Dr Alice Vernon from the Department of English and Creative Writing received a Joy Welch grant in 2021-22 for her project ‘Inner Workings: How We Understand and Imagine the Inside of the Human Body’.

Dr Vernon said; “The support of the Joy Welch fund allowed me to conduct archive research in London for the first time, which really helped develop my skills as a researcher and writer. As a result of this work, I was selected to give a lecture at Hay Festival in 2022 which has been one of the high points of my career so far. This was my first grant success and was influential in encouraging me to submit further funding applications. As such, in 2023 I was awarded a University Research Fund award, and I will now be applying for external funding with the Leverhulme Trust and British Academy.”

Pictured: Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure (centre) and Dr Eva De Visscher, Trusts and Foundations Manager at Aberystwyth University (second from right) mark the new Joy Welch endowment with researchers who have received support from the Trust (left to right) Dr Valerie Rodrigues (Life Sciences), Dr Alice Vernon (English and Creative Writing), Professor Stephen Tooth (Geography and Earth Sciences), Tracy Knight, Dr Sarah Dalesman and Dr Rhys Thatcher (Life Sciences), and Dr Rachel Cross (Physics).

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Education

Phoebe-Lily shines in Royal Opera House design challenge

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is proud to announce that Phoebe-Lily, a Graphics & Illustration student, has been awarded a ‘Commended’ judgment for her outstanding set design entry to the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. Phoebe’s entry was based on the production of ‘Barber of Seville’ and showcased remarkable creativity and skill.

Phoebe-Lily Williams was among ten Further Education students commended by the judges for their exceptional contributions.

The Royal Opera House Design Challenge provides a platform for young talents across the UK to demonstrate their creative abilities in set design. Phoebe’s commendation reflects her commitment to excellence and innovation in her field.

Upon receiving the commendation, Phoebe expressed her gratitude for the support she received from her tutors at Pembrokeshire College. She remarked, “I was more illustrative, and my tutors were very supportive. I want to go on to study set design and production, so Lou showed me the design challenge and said it would be okay to do that instead of a packaging brief.”

Phoebe chose Pembrokeshire College for its tailored modules that aligned with her career aspirations. She found the course to be conducive to developing the skills necessary for her desired path. “I enjoyed the process as it felt very liberating and positive, knowing that my tutors were encouraging and supportive of my career and study goals,” she added.

The Royal Opera House has invited the twenty winning, highly commended, and commended students, including Phoebe, to attend an awards ceremony on June 4, 2024. This event will provide them with an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field and gain insights into the day-to-day workings of the Royal Opera House.

Additionally, the public will have the chance to view the winning, highly commended, and commended works at an exhibition in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House from May 27 to June 10, 2024.

Amy McGann, Head of National Schools Programmes at the Royal Opera House, commended the participants for their creativity and expressed excitement about providing professional feedback to students from various educational settings. She stated, “The level of creativity from the young people across the country in this year’s Design Challenge has been high. As well as celebrating the Winners, Highly Commended, and Commended, we are looking forward to delivering professional feedback to students from an ever-widening set of participating educational settings.”

Phoebe-Lily Williams and her fellow commandeers represent the future of set design and production, and their achievements are a testament to their talent and hard work.

To find out more about the creative courses available at the College please visit www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk

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Education

Pembrokeshire schools achieve milestone for careers award

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32 schools in Wales have successfully completed the first stage of the new Careers Wales Quality Award, including Pembrokeshire Learning Centre.

The award supports schools and settings with learners aged 3-16 with the development of purposeful and relevant careers and work-related experiences (CWRE) across the curriculum.

The schools are taking part in the pilot of the new award and are working closely with dedicated curriculum coordinators from Careers Wales to develop a CWRE model that works best for the individual school and its pupils.

This stage forms the first of three stages, each with a different focus. Titled leadership, it forms the basis for the required ongoing development of pupils’ careers learning. 

WALES NEWS SERVICE

Jeremy Miles, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy & Welsh Language, said: “Well done to all the schools taking part for their commitment to their pupil’s future career and work-related opportunities.

“It’s so important for children and young people to learn about the different pathways available to them to ease the transition from education to successful employment, and each school’s work-related experiences action plan will support this continuous development.

“We want to do everything we can to help our children and young people achieve their full potential. By developing work related experiences across the curriculum our schools can support their learners to go on to play their full part in our economy and society.”

As part of the leadership stage, the schools have worked closely with Careers Wales to create an action plan, a vision and strategy for CWRE, and have planned for the regular monitoring and review of this activity.

This stage has also seen the school identify the roles needed to facilitate effective development of CWRE and commit to allocate sufficient resources.

Jo Thomas, Teacher in Charge at Pembrokeshire Learning Centre, said: “The award has helped us enormously and has enabled us to develop best practice within the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre. We now have a robust policy in place, with clear aims as to the breadth of Careers Education.

“By doing the Quality Award, we are beginning to embed CWRE into our curriculum in a way that it incorporates all pupils.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive at Careers Wales, said: “A huge congratulations to all the schools who have completed the leadership stage of the Careers Wales Quality Award.

“Each school’s commitment to the award illustrates their ongoing dedication to provide their pupils with high quality careers and work-related experiences.

“Quality careers support equips young people with the vital skills, knowledge and resources to succeed, as well as benefitting the local community and economy in Wales with a capable, confident and motivated future workforce.

“We look forward to progressing through the award process alongside the participating schools. Together, we will achieve our shared objective to empower pupils with the ability to make informed decisions about their futures and take steps towards success.”

Following a successful pilot, the award has been designed to be launched nationally across Wales.

For more information on the award, visit the Careers Wales Quality Award pilot webpage.

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Education

Exciting visit to France for Pembrokeshire school pupils

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LAST week, 60 children and 16 teaching staff visited the Bassin d’Arcachon in France as part of a Taith funded project. 

The children, representing Pennar Community School, Neyland Community School, Prendergast Community School, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi and Haverfordwest High School, engaged in a week of activities with French school children. 

They visited lessons, took part in dancing, art, maths and playground games, all with the aim of developing modern foreign language skills, exploring cultural similarities and differences as well as having an overarching theme of sustainability in schools and caring for the environment. 

The children explored the Dune de Pilat, the largest natural sand dune in Europe, and Biscarosse beach where they undertook beach and environmental studies.

The town of Neyland has had a twinning connection with the town of Sanguinet for more than ten years and this trip allowed these friendships to develop further and pave the way for a return visit by up to 20 French children next year.

The group was hosted by the twinning committee and the mayor at a reception in the town hall where the children had the opportunity to sample local dishes.

The children and staff were excellent ambassadors for their schools and for Pembrokeshire, laying the foundations for future collaborations.

Taith is Wales’ international learning exchange programme, with taith being Welsh for journey.

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