Month: November 2016

Ex-City College student provides stunning artwork for National Trust

William Hanekom, who recently completed three years at City College Brighton and Hove studying Foundation Learning, Digital Design, Media & Film-making, has William Hanekomshowcased his considerable creative talent in the new ‘Potter & Ponder: Sensory Experiences at Croome’ map for the National Trust. William produced 12 illustrations that encourage visitors to experience Croome Park’s grounds, which were designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, using all of their senses. The National Trust worked with Sussex charity Outside In (which supports artists facing barriers to access the art world) to find the most appropriate artist and artwork for the map. Four local schools that support children with disabilities were chosen to collaborate on the project and the children were also asked to choose their favourite artist to design the map from a selection of proposals from Outside In artists, with William getting the winning vote.

“I was really proud that the schools chose my artwork,” says William. “I love to William Hanekom - Touchingdraw and I have done this from an early age as a way of escaping reality. I also enjoy experimenting with different techniques and styles.” Talking of his time at City College, William adds: “I liked the environment at City College, particularly the glass front foyer and café where I could sit in the dry on a rainy day and draw. The tutors and learning support staff were always enthusiastic and helpful and I felt that I had a lot of encouragement and learnt a lot of new techniques.”

“Outside In were thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the National Trust on a new idea that we hope will be rolled out across the Trust,” says Outside William Hanekom - ListeningIn Manager, Jennifer Gilbert. “William took the brief in a great direction and produced a series of playful colourful drawings that we hope children and adults enjoy for years to come.”

‘Working with William was a really enjoyable experience,’ says Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton from the National Trust. ‘He is a committed and talented professional artist, adaptable, innovative and fully understood the commissioning needs for the project. His practice appealed to all of our participants and he was selected because of his unique style and creative ideas.’

“What impressed me most about William as a student was his encyclopaedic knowledge of films – particularly animation – and his constant creativity,” says Lucy Grout, Senior Teaching Support Assistant at City College. “William thought in images and any spare moment he would always be found drawing, realising and refining his ideas. The Carousel charity in Brighton also deserve a lot of credit for making William aware of this fantastic opportunity and I’m delighted to see him achieve this success so soon after leaving the College.”

For more information on courses at City College, call 01273 667759, email or see

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From teacher to holistic therapist – how City College proved life-changing for Katie

Having spent 20 years as a teacher before re-training in Complementary Therapies at City College, Katie Stanton has wasted no time utilising the skills she gained onKatie Stanton pics (9) her Level 3 qualification. Katie only completed her course during summer 2016 and is already successfully running her own holistic therapies business, ReTreat, from a specially-constructed treatment room in her back garden in Hove.

‘I left teaching not knowing if a career in complementary therapies was for me but within weeks of being at the College I knew I was doing the right thing,’ says Katie. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed my training and learnt a lot during my one-year course. I had amazing tutors and the support and guidance I was given was exceptional.  My client case studies were always interesting and I found that many of them benefited physically, mentally and emotionally from their treatments. That really inspired me to continue after my training because I wanted other people to benefit from the different complementary therapies that I could offer.’

Now that Katie is working for herself, she appreciates the flexibility of being able to Katie Stanton pics (1)work from home and organising her own working hours and also enjoys meeting and helping such a wide range of people: ‘I work with different clients with a variety of conditions which has included clients with chronic conditions and also the elderly. Seeing people’s conditions improve has been really rewarding.  I take great pleasure in helping clients to feel better and have seen complementary therapies dramatically improve so many people’s health and wellbeing.’

Katie was successful in gaining funding from the New Enterprise Allowance scheme which has helped set her business up financially, but with a high number of complementary therapists in the Brighton and Hove area, she is faced with the Katie Stanton pics (6)challenge of making her business stand out from the crowd. Aside from different marketing techniques including special offers, promotions and social media to keep ReTreat at the forefront of people’s minds, she feels the best way to grow her business is by offering an excellent service: ‘I set out to be the best I can be and make sure all my clients have a personalised treatment, hopefully resulting them in wanting to come back again.’

Alongside running her own business, Katie’s stress-busting complementary therapy skills are appreciated by teaching staff during weekly sessions at a local secondary school and she’s also been working at The Frances Taylor Foundation, a care home Katie Stanton pics (10)for the elderly and people with learning difficulties where she finds much satisfaction in seeing very vulnerable people benefit from massage and reflexology. In addition, she also regularly works as a supply teacher at a local primary school. Despite such a hectic schedule, she has no regrets about her career change: ‘I’ve never looked back and wouldn’t change my decision. I love being a self-employed complementary therapist and take a lot of pride in starting up and running a successful business at the age of 43! My work/life balance has improved and I’m certainly in a better place and feel that I’m a better person who has more time for family and friends.’

Looking back at her life-changing year at City College, Katie says: ‘I made some friends for life while I was at the College. I also loved learning new things and as a mature student I found it easier than when I was at school! There were some very challenging times during the year and at times, I couldn’t see the wood from the trees but with the help of my tutors and fellow students – not to mention a lot of laughter – I got through it.’

As an exemplar of the benefits of ‘lifelong learning,’ Katie’s advice to others considering re-training for a new career is heartfelt: ‘It may seem a cliché but don’t let anything, or anyone, stand in your way. Go out of your way to make opportunities happen. Don’t give up when things get hard and if you want it, you will achieve it.’

For more information on Complimentary Therapies courses at City College, contact course information on 01273 667759, email or see

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The ‘nomadic, international hotelier life’ of CCBH alumnus Darren Gearing

Having enjoyed an outstanding 30-year career in the luxury hotel industry, it’s unsurprising that Darren Gearing already had a strong sense of vocation when he Darren Gearingcame to City College in 1983 to study Hotel, Catering & Institutional Management. ‘I always knew I was suited for the hotel business and I think being from Brighton greatly influenced this,’ he says. ‘I would never have achieved my goals without the support and excellent influence of my tutors and lecturers at City College, many of whom I’m still in touch with today. I’ve got fond memories of my time at the College and can still remember my first very nervous service in the training restaurant with a smile. Also, our famed ‘winery visits’ to France were legendary!’

Feeling well-prepared to go straight into industry after successfully completing his studies and clearly making an excellent impression on would-be employers, within a year, Darren had secured a position in America, working in Boston for Marriott Island.Shangri-La Hong KongHotels. This led to an opportunity to open a new flagship Hotel in Hong Kong in late 1988 and then, in 1990, while still based in Hong Kong, he was head-hunted by the Shangri-La Hotel Group which led to a distinguished 25-year career with the company.  ‘My time with Shangri-La was quite prolific and opportune,’ recalls Darren. ‘I was lucky to come on-board as the company was going through enormous growth.’ By 1996, and aged just 31, Darren had been appointed General Manager and subsequently progressed on to Senior Director of Development and Vice President & General Manager roles with the company, which involved tenures in Beijing and Singapore. There were many career highlights for Darren during this period but he takes particular pride in being recognised by the Beijing Government in 2005 as one of just 5 exceptional ‘Foreign Experts’ and also achieving 3 Michelin Stars at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong.

After many successful years in East Asia, 2012 brought the lure of a return to the U.K. and a fresh challenge to lead on the opening of the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard in London. From his new London base, Darren, as Executiveshangri-la-hotel-at-the-shard-london-23 Vice President for Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, oversaw 17 hotels and more than 8,000 colleagues, all encompassing many new hotel openings and renovations in London, Qatar, Mauritius, India and Sri Lanka. The level of responsibility that he has taken on throughout his career may sound daunting, but Darren seems to take it in his stride: ‘I‘ve always enjoyed working with people, be they clients or colleagues, and always wanted to travel the world. I therefore feel fortunate that I’ve chosen this career and the wealth of travel opportunities it’s given me so I don’t ponder on the challenges too much. That said, opening and managing hotels is definitely not for the faint hearted so I have to admit that being in China in the early 90s and opening hotels in Qatar, India and Sri Lanka within a six month period really did test my fortitude!’

In summer this year, Darren decided to take his career in a different direction and he now owns a small group of gastro pubs in Worthing and runs a Sussex-based plant hire business: ‘I think within my 30 years working for others there was always a burning curiosity to ‘do my own thing’ at some point and when I turned 50, I started putting serious plans in place to make this happen. In the immediate future, I aim to continue with my entrepreneurial endeavours.’

While enjoying being his own boss, Darren also finds time to actively consult and work with several London and Internationally-based hotel-owners and doesn’t rule out re-entering the corporate luxury hotel world at some stage – working in NYC’s corporate luxury hotel scene remains an ambition that he’d love to fulfil. As for his interests outside of work, Darren says: ‘I have a reasonable wine cellar that gives me great joy to share with friends and my other interests include swimming and travelling. My entire family love to travel and I suspect this has been a result of my somewhat nomadic, international hotelier life! I feel that the personal achievement I’m most proud of is marrying a lovely Japanese lady and having two great children who make us very proud and keep us young.’

When it comes to Darren’s words of advice to City College’s current Hospitality and Catering students, he says: ‘Once you are certain of your chosen field, remember your goals and go for it. If these goals change as you progress that’s great as one thing is for certain – you must embrace change and continual learning.’

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How City College set wheels in motion for Team GB Cycling’s Soigneur

Over the years, City College’s Beauty & Holistic Therapies team have passed on their industry experience to a lot of hard-working students eager to boost their skills, but not many have had such a prodigious hunger for learning as Davide Davide (9)Cappelletto. During 2005 and 2006, Davide trained in no less than six different therapies at the College – Body Massage, Remedial Massage, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Aromatherapy and Thermal Auricular Therapy. ‘Davide was an exceptionally dedicated student,’ recalls his tutor, Georgia Christoforou. ‘In each of the courses he studied, he totally immersed himself in the subject, gained as much knowledge as possible from his tutors and took every opportunity to refine his skills.’

Ten years on, the dedication that Davide demonstrated during his time at the College has well and truly paid off as he now enjoys a rewarding and exciting role as ‘Soigneur’ (the vital member of a cycling team who gives massage, nutrition and a range of other assistance to riders) with Team GB Cycling while also working as a self-employed Holistic Therapist.

“I started studying massage therapy with the idea to go back into sport as a holistic therapist and City College gave me the knowledge and skills which are now the base of my career,” says Davide.  ‘I loved the atmosphere at the College and the way the tutors were pushing us to achieve more and get the best out of our time. I felt very inspired by them.  I still remember my first day at the College. When I showed up, I was pretty relaxed, expecting to have an induction day. As it turned out, within five minutes of the tutor entering the room, she was already getting us engaged with muscle physiology and massage techniques and that continual focus on learning was something that really stuck with me.’

Originally from Treviso in Italy, Davide returned to his native country after completing his studies at City College and within a year, had established his own Holistic Therapies clinic. At the same time, he focussed on gaining experience as a sports masseuse, initially in football but then in a sport that he has a huge passion Davide (7)for – cycling.  Having lent his skills to various local cycling teams, Davide had a lucky break while working at an under 17s race where he introduced himself to the Australian National team and offered his services. A year later, the team contacted him which led to a successful working partnership that lasted seven years. This period brought many career highlights for Davide. In 2009, one of the athletes he was working with, Jack Bobridge, became the Under-23 World Time Trial Champion in Mendrisio, Switzerland and in 2015, the Australian women’s pursuit team Davide was working with became world champions, beating the previous 2013 world record.  At the Track World Championships in Paris a couple of months later the Australian men’s Under 23 team he was working with, featuring track world champion Alexander Edmonson, won the Tour of Flanders Espoirs, the biggest one day race in the cycling calendar.

The latest exciting stage in Davide’s career came this year when Team GB opened a base to develop young talents in Montichiari in northern Italy and Davide was offered the opportunity to get involved. This month, he’ll be with the team in Belgium with a trip to Switzerland coming up in December. At the beginning of 2017, the new road season will commence and Davide will be working with a new Davide (6)group of up-and-coming young cyclists. ‘I love working in a sporting environment because you’re always having to overcome new challenges,’ he says. ‘Being a soigneur means taking care of the team at 360° – from well-being right through to the logistical side. As well as being involved with a sport that I’ve loved since I was a child, I’m now working on the development of the most talented young riders in the world and at times with the kind of elite athletes that I usually just follow on TV. There’s always something new to learn, professionally and personally, and it gives me lot of inspiration to put into my own clinic. There’s also a really interesting and satisfying contrast in my career because after working with top athletes, I love going back to my clinic and helping ‘ordinary’ people to find their balance and recover their health. I love the feeling of helping them and the personal fulfilment of seeing positive outcomes.’

Looking to the future, Davide’s greatest ambition is to be involved in the Olympics Davide (1)but he can still find much satisfaction in all that he’s achieved so far: ‘Working with the two nations that are leading the field in cycling for results, research and ethics and being in contact with top athletes is something that makes me feel really proud.’

So finally, what’s his advice to current Beauty & Holistic Therapies students who aspire to a successful career of their own?: ‘Don’t be scared of your own dreams.  Make them happen day by day, step by step. If you love your subject, let your own passion drive you – it will bring you there!’

For more information on Beauty & Holistic Therapies courses at City College, contact course information on 01273 667759, email or see




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