Category: Alumni News (Page 2 of 4)

Danielle’s ‘long and winding road’ to success – the Ellie Ellie story

Over a dozen years have passed since businesswoman Danielle Plowman completed her Art Foundation course at City College and she describes her subsequent career as “…a very long and winding road, full of knockbacks and failures, all of which Danielle Plowmanled me to what I’m doing now. I was rejected over and over again which was hard to take emotionally but it just made me even stronger and more stubborn to succeed.” As Managing Director of lifestyle brand Ellie Ellie Ltd, Danielle is the creative force behind a thriving company offering unique and personalised gifts, jewellery and homeware items. Many of these are handmade in the company’s Hove workshop using vintage, upcycled, recycled or sustainable materials. Since its launch in 2012, Ellie Ellie has been taking the online market by storm and its products have featured in Vogue, been worn by celebs such as Pixie Lott, Jessie J and Jimmy Carr and won praise from famed entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.

So how much of an influence was City College on this impressive local success story? “Studying Art Foundation at the College was one of the best years of my life, “says Danielle. “It was challenging, fast-paced but very rewarding. When I was doing the course, I wanted to be a fashion designer, having always made my own clothes and had a love of design. After trying out all the disciplines, I found that fashion and textiles was my strength so I specialised in that area before doing a fashion degree at Kingston University. I’d never have guessed back then that I would have ended up running my own business!”

After graduating from Kingston, Danielle had an eclectic career path during which she worked as a shop assistant, ran her own childrenswear shop for two years, perfected her menswear tailoring skills thanks to a friendship with a veteran local tailor (she later became the recommended tailor for her local Marks and Spencer!) and worked in Chichester Festival Theatre’s wardrobe department. Then, in 2009, Danielle decided to travel the world. When she reached Australia, she managed to secure an exciting role as Sales & Marketing Manager of a new childrenswear company in Melbourne who were so impressed with Danielle that they offered to sponsor her to stay and get residency. Unfortunately, Australia’s skilled migration criteria changed and she ended up returning to the UK with no funds or immediate job prospects.

It was during this demoralising period in 2010, however, that Danielle came across Ellie Ellie teaman old note book where she’d scribbled down a reference to the website which had been recommended to her by a customer a few years previously. She promptly went onto the website, applied to be a partner to sell her jewellery and had her first order within 3 hours – Ellie Ellie was officially underway! By 2012, the business had become a limited company and Danielle had employed her first member of staff. Fast forward 4 years and they are now a team of 13 creative, young and ambitious staff, working in the heart of Hove with a turnover of £1.2 million.

So what have been the most exciting or rewarding moments of Danielle’s career so far? “There have been loads!” she says. “When I first realised that people would buy my products and designs, that was an amazing and very powerful moment. Ellie Ellie product 1Since then, winning Sussex Online Business of the Year in 2014 and Entrepreneur of the Year at the awards felt like really special achievements after all my hard work. As a designer you‘re constantly wondering whether anyone else is going to love your new designs as much as you do, so when you see that first sale it is so rewarding! I also love building my company and constantly learning new things. Every day is a challenge and I love being able to create my own path and future. “

Danielle’s ambitions for Ellie Ellie know no bounds and as well as developing the Ellie Ellie product bagswholesale side of the company to get its products into large department stores, she also has plans for Elllie Ellie to have its own flagship store in Brighton within the next few years. So what ‘top tips’ for success would Danielle offer City College’s current generation of budding young artists, designers and entrepreneurs? “Building a career is really about finding opportunities and you don’t know what they’ll be until you’re out there actively looking,” she says. “I’m now on the other side of the interview table and I’m always looking for positive and hardworking attitudes alongside skills and qualifications. I am also looking for people who’ve got themselves out there gaining work experience while studying. That really shows dedication and ambition.”

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Former student lends carpentry skills to mermaid-themed Multiple Sclerosis charity event

​​Former City College Brighton and Hove Carpentry student Leo Mumford has used Mermaid chair 16 2the skills he’s gained at the College to construct a sedan chair which Multiple Sclerosis campaigner Shana Pezaro will be using during a mermaid-themed fundraising walk from Brighton’s Palace Pier to Hove Lagoon. The event, scheduled to take place this Sunday (31st July) is to raise money for the Sussex MS Centre in Southwick. City College provided Leo with workshop space, fixings and reused timber to construct the chair which was then decorated with a Regency/seaside theme by professional theatrical prop-makers/sculptors Rachel Williams and Wendy Hall. On the walk, Shana will be carried in her sedan chair by friends and supporters dressed in a mermaid costume designed by Red & Bex from Brighton based company, Redblue Threads.

Mermaid chair- Shana 16Shana Pearo says: “I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis eight years ago and am now predominantly a wheelchair user so the support that Sussex MS Centre provides has been a massive part of my life. We’re hopeful that this event will raise significant funds for a Centre that provides absolutely essential emotional support, exercise classes and therapies to people living with MS and their families.”

Leo Mumford adds:

“As a friend of Shana’s, there are times when she’s relied on me to carry her from aMermaid chair- ​Leo Mumford​ 16 - Copy seat if she can’t get up, or over steps if she can’t cross them. So this got me thinking about the idea of carrying her for charity, representing the trust that’s needed between people with MS and society. I was therefore delighted and grateful that my former tutors were supportive of my goal, as was the College, which has meant that we’ve been able to turn my original idea into reality.”




To donate, see:


In advance of event: Leo Mumford – 07883 800423, Shana Pezaro – 07704 155283

During event from 8.30am on July 31st: Annie Smythe or Katie Walker – 07704 155283

Sussex MS Centre: Hilary Green – 01273 594484

For City College media enquiries, please call Brian Bell on 01273 667788 Ext. 488 or email

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From Physics to Fine Art – Miguel’s journey

Since completing his part-time Foundation diploma in Art and Design course at City College in 2013, Miguel Sopena has gone on to study portraiture at  the  Miguel - self portrait web renowned Heatherley School of Fine Art (famous alumni includes Henry Moore, Franz Kline and Walter Sickert) and embark on a life as a self-employed fine artist. Stylistically, Miguel’s work revolves strongly around the human figure but he has recently started experimenting with abstraction and landscape-based painting. His stunning work features in Exhibit Here’s 2016 Summer Exhibition at London’s Menier Gallery, as well as Highgate Contemporary Art’s 2016 Summer Exhibition. He’s also recently been offered an artist’s residency in Joutsa in Finland and has already been successful in finding eager buyers for his work through Degree Art, the market leader in UK student and graduate art sales, which hand picks and promotes the most promising artistic talent.

Hailing from Valencia in Spain, Miguel had originally studied Physics and after moving to the UK he studied for an MSc at UCL in London and subsequently a PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Sussex. It was while living as a student in Lewes that he started drawing and taking short courses which led to the decision to explore his new passion at City College.

“My time at the College had a massive influence,” Miguel recalls. “The Foundation miguel - abstract landscape webcourse was really what convinced me that I wanted to train and work as an artist even though I came from a completely different background. Another great thing about the course was that we were such a diverse group of people with all sorts of backgrounds and interests. The course also really broadened my horizons, from having worked mainly with drawing and photography to exploring and having fun with a huge range of approaches and techniques which is what’s so great and unique about the course. I’d definitely recommend the course to anyone who wants to develop their creativity.”

Like most self-employed artists, much of Miguel’s time is consumed with non-artistic aspects such as marketing, promotion, looking for exhibiting opportunities and trying to sell his work online, but it’s the creative aspect that he finds most miguel - absract 1 websatisfying: “The creativity is what it’s all about and it’s what makes everything else worth it and keeps you optimistic.  As an artist, regardless of what’s going on in the ‘real world’, often the most exciting moments come from producing interesting results or realising that all your hard work and all that practice are getting somewhere. It’s very exciting to look back on work you did some time ago and feel you’ve made progress, and to get positive feedback from other people.”

Miguel observes that many of his former City College class-mates have been highly adept at finding their own career paths but to anyone who’s just starting to consider a career in the arts, his advice is simply to keep working: “Work to enhance your creativity and also to find out what your practice may be about and the opportunities which are out there. I think any artist will tell you that nothing comes free but conversely the effort you put in will enrich you and be rewarding one way or another.”

Personal website:

Facebook page:

LinkedIn: Miguel Sopena

Twitter: @Melmoth71

Instagram: @miguelsopena1

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How City College provided a turning point for Murray Media’s influential MD

As MD of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations agency Murray Media Bill Murray 2Ltd, Bill Murray is an influential figure in Brighton & Hove. As well as being the man behind Brighton’s Big Screen, the hugely popular open air  beachfront cinema which showcases blockbuster movies, classic films and top live sporting events, brighton wheelBill is the spokesperson for one of the best-known local landmarks of recent years, the Brighton Wheel and
successfully managed to represent the Starr Trust and Crest Nicholson as chosen developers for the King Alfred project. He has also worked on many high profile projects such as the Laughs in the Park comedy festival, Music Park and the Walk of Fame.

But Bill’s journey to success wasn’t a straightforward one. After being a Business Studies student at Brighton Polytechnic, a period in his life that he describes as “a chaotic time,” Bill came to City College in 1992 to study Media Techniques. “The College was a turning point for me,” he says.”I originally wanted to make it in the London advertising world but I soon realised that I wasn’t the greatest ‘suit’! I needed to feel creative but I’m not a ‘creative’ in the usual sense. Luckily my tutor, who was a great bloke, convinced me to write better copy and concentrate on stuff I enjoyed. City College gave me focus. It helped me find what I love to do and I was lucky to have tutors who saw through my arrogance and blasé attitude.”

After leaving City College, Bill went on to become a sponsorship and marketing manager for a local publishing company before embarking on a career as a PR and freelance journalist. This led to the launch of Murray Media in 1999 and since then, the company has been behind a range of multi-million pound leisure and retail project launches both in the UK and Europe.

One of the highlights of Bill’s career came earlier this year when his clients, local youth charity the Starr Trust and developers Crest Nicholson, were selected by King Alfred redevelopmentBrighton & Hove City Council to take forward a £200 million redevelopment of the King Alfred site on Hove seafront. The scheme will include a modern public sports centre costing around £40 million, a development of 560 flats – 20% of which will be affordable homes – as well as community facilities and commercial space. More generally, he’s found much satisfaction in Murray Media being an environment where talented, ambitious individuals can flourish. “It’s rewarding to see someone we’ve hired develop their craft and then feeling slightly smug that we’ve helped them on their way!” he says.

Aside from family life and his career with Murray Media, Bill biggest passion is Bill Murraycinema and he loves working with BBC Sussex & Surrey Radio to bring listeners weekly movie reviews. “I’m obsessed,” he says. “I’m happy to sit in a screening room or cinema all day long. Luckily we have a Jack Russell puppy so I get to take long walks punctuated with longer lunches. It keeps me away from movies!”

If you’re a former City College student and would like to share your story with us, email

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Maria Allen – City College’s crafty entrepreneur!

While she was studying Art Foundation at City College in 2008 and developing her skills in graphic design, Maria Allen began making and selling cards to local shops and galleries in her spare time. Encouraged by how well these were received, Mariamaria headshot b & w branched out into hand-made jewellery and started her business Maria Allen Boutique during her first year of studying Graphic Design at Brighton University. The business specialises in hand crafted products using reclaimed British and sustainably- sourced wood. Alongside jewellery, its range has been extended to include accessories, homeware and wedding décor. Many of the products are personalised and custom made, helping customers to make the most of special occasions and landmark moments in their lives.

“The business mainly stemmed from not being able to find jewellery that I really liked, so I taught myself to make it and then friends and family took interest in it
and wanted me to make some for them too,”
  Maria explains. Running the business part-time in between studying, Maria enjoyed the enterprise so much thatMaria Allen Boutique_Personalised mini love letter necklace_-ú49 (2) she concluded that she could grow the business when she graduated and run it full-time: “It started in my parent’s house and then soon enough, it took up most rooms in their house including the landings and loft! So we moved into a studio space and that’s where I started hiring staff and since then we have moved into a bigger studio as we outgrew it. Everything has turned out better than I’d ever imagined! I’m proud to have created my own job for myself after graduating from Uni. I love what I do so it doesn’t seem like work every day! I am also proud to have created jobs for other people and to have built a team around me, who are really inspiring to work with each day.” 

With her business now attracting customers from all over the world and excellent media coverage, Maria is grateful for mentoring support she had at City Maria Allen jewelleryCollege when she entered her fledgling greetings cards idea into an Enterprise competition. She was encouraged to try an exercise in which she imagined exactly where she wanted to be in 10 years time -right down to details such as what her perfect workspace would look like – and focusing on what do she needed to do in various time intervals to achieve her dream: “I looked back recently at what I’d written down 8 years ago and it’s amazing to see how much of it is now a reality. I’ve updated my goals since then, so that there are always new things to be working on! My aim is to continue to grow the business and to carry on developing new products and exploring new markets. We are also hoping to have bigger premises very soon which will be great for our team.”

Lastly, looking back at her formative days as a City College student and Maria Allen March 08 - crop
budding entrepreneur, Maria says: “Some of my best memories come from those
times and the friends I met on the course were great – it was a really fun year. The course was fantastic and gave us a lot of freedom to see which area of design we liked working in the most. I loved my time at City College.”

Maria’s ‘top tips’ for current students:

  • aim high with your goals and don’t be afraid – believe in yourself!
  • remember that most things take longer than planned so just give it all time you need and be patient
  • if something doesn’t go as planned, it doesn’t mean it’s all failed – it’s just a change of path and often there are even better things round the corner!
  • find your strengths and work with them – and then find people who are great at other aspects of your business
  • step back and regularly acknowledge and celebrate all of your achievements! 

Twitter: maria_allen

Instagram: maria_allen_boutique



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

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Lucy’s foundation for creative problem-solving – from CCBH to NYC and beyond…

Since completing her Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at City College Brighton and Hove in Lucy Wood B & W2003, Cultural Producer Lucy Wood has enjoyed an exciting and diverse career in the creative industries – from working as a Promotions Coordinator for hip indie record label Warp Records in New York to promoting hundreds of live shows – including the hugely popular Field Day Festival – for renowned London live music promoter, Eat Your Own Ears. Although music rather than art has been the dominant factor in her working life, Lucy feels that her time at the College definitely influenced her career path. “Art Foundation is great for creative problem-solving,” she says. ”It helped to foster a love of the visual arts which has been particularly useful in my recent contracts. In my twenties, I think I had vague ideas about what I wanted to do, like maybe getting into film or advertising or media, but wasn’t sure what aspect.”

After leaving City College, with a winning mixture of creative imagination, tenacity, luck and grabbing whatever work experience opportunities came her way, Lucy began carving out a niche doing something she loved. Following her stint in NYC, she returned to the UK and secured a job with 19 Management’s touring department. This was Lucy’s first job in live music and involved working on large-scale gigs featuring 19’s roster of stars including Will Young, Gareth Gates, Rachel Stevens and Emma Bunton. “Not my kind of music but a great experience!” she says.

The next stage of Lucy’s career, with Eat Your Own Ears, lasted seven years. During this time, she played a key role in helping the company expand and promote 200 live shows a year and alongside this, she worked as a mentor/facilitator on various youth projects. By 2014, however, she felt it was time to diversify and broaden her experience. “I got really comfortable at Eat Your Own Ears, and leaving was really hard but I didn’t exactly make life easy for myself up by starting a Sociology of Culture MSc and a new freelance contract at the same time!”

The most recent phase in Lucy’s career has seen her producing food-related events, working on an intergenerational piece of devised theatre as well as programming and producing for a well-known speaker brand that has its own cultural venue. When asked which aspects of her job she finds most rewarding, she says: “I love being given something challenging to produce and using creative problem-solving to make it happen.” For Lucy, this has involved unusual challenges such as figuring out how to safely produce a series of gigs in the pitch dark to helping enable a group of boys from a deprived area of East London to throw their own party at the Savoy Hotel. It is, she feels, the happiest phase of her career to date: “It’s great seeing a project through to fruition and it’s brilliant to work with a variety of different cultural forms and different kinds of people on a daily basis.”

Lucy has clearly come a long way since her student days but looking back nostalgically at her time at City College she says: “I loved my group of friends and there were lots of standout moments, but probably the high point was the end of year show. The build up towards that, helping each other out and seeing everyone’s work come to fruition was really special. I also remember all the tutors very fondly – they were great.”

As for her words of advice for current students, Lucy says the main thing is not to panic if you’re unsure what direction to take after College: “When I was in my late teens and twenties I only had the dimmest idea of what I wanted to do or how I was supposed to get to that point. Gradually, you find lots of things fall into place. I never intended to work in music as I always thought it would be too competitive but step by step, I’ve worked my way up and have found a really satisfying career through it.”

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

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The beauty of a perfect career change – Lucy’s story

In her teenage years, Lucy Yoxen had a strong interest in beauty therapy and had Lucy Yoxen 2 cropconsidered it as a career but after leaving school, she ended up taking a very different path
– working in IT as a graphic and web designer. Making the decision to come to City College as a mature student in 2013 to study Level 2 Beauty Therapy was Lucy’s first daunting step towards a career change but it proved to be a shrewd move.

Once she embarked on the course, with much support and encouragement from her tutors, Lucy quickly demonstrated great aptitude for the subject. With growing confidence in her skills, she progressed onto the Level 3 course in 2014 and having gained much hands-on experience of dealing with customers in the College’s City Revival training salons, Lucy felt ready to take her next big step – becoming a self-employed beauty therapist.

In February, during the second term, I managed to secure a beauty room at Withdean Sports Complex and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t let slip through my fingers,” she recalls. “So, I launched Withdean Beauty Room and started treating clients almost immediately. It was extremely hard as I was at College two full days a week and working every hour possible to build up the business. Also, being a single mother to a three year old at the time, I certainly had my work cut out for me! Even though it was challenging, opening up the doors to my salon was incredibly rewarding and exciting. Knowing I had done this all myself, I felt so proud of my achievements and the hard work I’d put into my new career.”

While coping with the demands of her fledgling business and being a single mum, Lucy achieved her Level 3 qualification at the College which was another personal landmark: “I believed in myself and knew the skills I’d learnt at the College gave me the confidence to continue building my business. The salon’s been open for two years now, and I’m forever grateful to City College and all the tutors who helped me throughout my time there. The attention to detail and the level of training was outstanding. I wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for my tutors and the College itself.” 

But being at the College wasn’t just about achieving the all-important professional qualification – it was also about the people she met there: “My fondest memories are of my fellow students because we had so much fun together. I’ve made a lovely group of friends who I still keep in touch with and we support each other’s growing careers. We worked hard together and everyone was friendly and gave you support if and when you needed it. We also loved hanging out in the College refectory on breaks, whether we were studying or just catching up… fun times!”

As for the day-to-day realities of running her own business, what aspect does Lucy enjoy most? The most rewarding moment I get, every single day, is making people happy,” she says. “It’s all about helping people to feel special and pampered in the relaxing and calm atmosphere that I’ve created.” 

Having achieved the ambition of running her own business, Lucy now aims to expand it and is also looking into developing her own beauty product range. But what advice would she give to current students?

“Invest your time in something you really enjoy,” she says. “Once you find that, you will dedicate your time wholeheartedly, which will reap its rewards in the end. Also, work hard and never be afraid to believe in your own ability. You really can do anything if you set your mind to it!” 

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

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Lessons in overcoming adversity – Meeting Paul Jacobs

By George Spiller 

We’re pleased to share the following article, written by former City College Prince’s Trust TEAM member George Spiller, who has overcome his own problems with anxiety and depression and is now thriving on a Politics & Philosophy degree at the University of Southampton…

Anxiety and Depression amongst young people in today’s society is, unfortunately, increasingly prevalent. Many people go through a phase in their lives where they get into a Paul Jacobs and George Spiller 15 web
vicious circle of feeling down and bad about themselves. What is important to realise, however, is that it is just a phase and not a defining part of our life and character. Through working hard to change your outlook and being involved in positive day to day activities and experiences, no matter how small, you can move on from feeling bad and start to live a much more happy and fulfilled life.

This is where I’d like to introduce Paul Jacobs. I met Paul at the Blind Veterans UK centre at Ovingdean (known locally as St Dunstans) to have a chat with him about his incredible life and the adversity and many challenges he has overcome. In 2009, when he was just 19, Paul was a Rifleman in the British Army’s 2nd Battalion the Rifles. After leading a routine patrol in the same district where half his platoon were injured or killed just weeks earlier in the bomb ridden streets of Afghanistan, Paul and his men came across a multitude of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) whilst trying to clear a safe route with a hand held mine detector. The explosions were devastatingly sudden and instantly killed a colleague as Paul rushed to try and save him , desperately pulling him back all the while dodging more IEDs. A second colleague bravely coming to help then triggered a second blast and was also killed instantly. A cloud of shrapnel rained down on Paul hitting him in the right eye and lodging into his brain. Bleeding seriously from multiple injuries, he managed to drag himself to safety to make sure those coming to rescue him would not be in danger. After waking up in hospital in Birmingham a few weeks later, he realised he was completely blind.

My conversation with Paul started in an upbeat manner, getting to know each other through a good bit of general banter before I asked him about his latest challenge – an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon (26.2-mile) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. This would only add to his list of achievements which include being decorated with the George Medal for bravery, climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling 500 miles, travelling route 66, skydiving and running a few marathons. Add to this raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity, his help in setting up the organisation Team Escapade which creates extreme challenges for both the able bodied and disabled military veterans and his lust for life seemingly knows no bounds. He also hopes to compete in the Paralympics in 2016.

When asked where he gets such drive and vigour from, he tells me matter-of-factly:

 “Because I was a soldier, and I got taught you’ve got to adapt and overcome anything put in front of you. Whether it’s a brick wall mentally or physically, you’ve got to overcome it. Go round it, go over it, or go under it.

“And growing up on the streets of South London as a foster kid. I’ve been fighting all my life.

“I was in my first council flat at 15 down in Brixton just off Electric Avenue. You come out your door and at the bottom of the road they’re selling crack and you’ve only got to catch their eye and they think you could be Old Bill.

“By the time I was 16 I was arrested and banged up in magistrate’s court. I lost my brother in 2002 to the prison system. I joined the Army and just as I was in training my old man dropped down dead. Ever since that I’ve just been fighting. You have to fight to maintain what you’ve got.

Paul then reminisced about how he was told in the magistrate’s court “why don’t you do something for yourself like joining the Army?” and how it stuck in his head. After a trip to Nelson’s Column he got into a conversation about the Lord Admiral with a stranger who asked him if he knew where Nelson had started from:

“He was just a humble priest’s son. He started off with nothing. And that made me think well if that poor little ****er could do it then dear old Ginge can do it too.”

Such an attitude has thus been drummed into Paul over and over again. An attitude of unwavering self belief and dogged determination that allows him to overcome circumstances that would make most of us crumble, and achieve things most couldn’t imagine. Moving on, I asked Paul what he thought about people getting overly stressed in everyday life compared to having to cope with extreme situations in the Army:

“My best friend was 18, six weeks after his 18th birthday he died in my arms. The last thing he saw was me.

“We’re so used to everything being on time. We’re programmed by the chip. That’s society. Everything we do is turned on by a chip or accessible by a chip and we expect the train to be there by 16 minutes past three. We expect that because that’s what our phones tell us.

“But that’s not how the world runs. To create a rainbow you need sunshine and rain so with everything in life, there’s good with bad and bad with good.”

I then asked about Paul’s unrelenting charity work and how he copes with the challenges he faces despite being unable to see:

“You’ve got sight George, so when you’re out running, you can say ‘right, today I’m going to get to the third lamppost’ you can see that by the time you’ve got past the first lamppost and the second lamppost you can already see what you’re aiming towards.

“Whereas to me, in every step I take, I’m oblivious to how many steps I’ve got to keep on taking. I’ve got to have constant mind games with myself.”

Paul told me that having constant “chit-chat” in his ear often helps him paint a mental image and allows him to focus on his goal. He then proceeded to draw the exact layout of the room we were in on my hand as referenced from what people had told him.

As our conversation came to a close, Paul brought up one final sentiment which resonated with me particularly strongly as we talk about our mutual love for music:

“Music is the soul of everybody’s life. And that will either make you feel good, sad or bad. Everyone’s got a collection of sad music. Sometimes I want a day where I just want to be chilled out and a little bit sad to remember people who are no longer with us.”

From this we talk about how being sad or down from time to time is a ‘natural order’ and something that you need to let happen without judgement. “We have to listen to our bodies” says Paul.

Meeting Paul was a humbling experience. His courage, candour and optimism are truly inspiring and have reaffirmed my belief in positive thinking.

Of course, Paul as well as being an incredibly brave man is also a sensitive and thoughtful one. He would be the first to admit that professional and personal support, as well as strong friendships, has been incredibly important to him since losing his sight. No matter what you are going through, nobody gets better by themselves. Interacting and laughing with other people can mean so much and it is the good relationships we form in life that ultimately make our time here worthwhile. A simple chat can be the catalyst to not only recovering but finding a new lust for life that you never knew you had. It is not only the destination that we are travelling to which defines us but the character we choose to build along the way. I’ll leave the final word to Paul:

“You’ve got to wake up every day with a positive attitude and say to yourself ‘ how can I, and when will I be, better than what I am today?”

For more details on the Prince’s Trust TEAM programme at City College, email


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Isaac At Pop-up Pride

Let’s face it, if you’re local to Brighton, you have probably already heard about Isaac At, and if you haven’t, we’re sure news of this fantastic independent restaurant will be reaching you soon!

Since their launch in spring 2015, the Isaac At team have gone from strength to strength and are certainly proving their worth in the culinary whirlwind that is the Brighton foodie scene.

Isaac and George have put their City College training to exceptional use and are now Isaac@The Gallery Feb 16talented chefs and restaurateurs, who we expect will go on to achieve great success. Not only are they talented but they are also lovely young people, who wanted to put something back into the community by sharing their skills, knowledge and experience with our current Catering & Hospitality students. We love to see our students flourish, and as you can imagine, we were delighted when Isaac At dream team and City College graduates Issac Bartlett-Copeland and George Thomas decided to return to where it all began, to bring an Isaac At Pop-up to City College’s own restaurant, The Gallery.

I was lucky enough to bag a table for the hotly-anticipated five course tasting menu and took along with me the most discerning food critic I know, my mother.

So, what did we eat and was it any good?

I had expected our students to do us proud and I was not disappointed – the service was excellent and the food was heavenly.

Our meal started with freshly baked treacle & stout bread and caramelised shallot brioche, which were still warm when they arrived at our table, my favourite was the caramelised onion brioche, which was both moreish and comforting… yum.

Our appetiser was a mackerel tartare which was delicious, but surprisingly the stand-out element to this dish was the marinated cucumber, which set off the savoury flavours of the fish perfectly.

Next came our starter – a bright, pleasing dish of roast carrot, puffed rice and carrot & Isaac@Pop-up-picstar anise puree. My mum loved the starter and was very impressed with the contrasting textures of, roast, pureed and braised carrot paired with the crunchy puffed rice. All-in-all the starter was full of flavour and went down a treat!

Now, I can’t comment on the veggie option as both of us went for the lamb main course but, the lamb was incredible. I kid you not when I say it was the most delicious meat dish I have had in a long while. It was cooked to perfection, and you could tell it was exceptional quality (which I can now verify after googling the suppliers, Westdene Butchers!)  Perfect. Just perfect.

I enjoyed our main course so much I did think the dessert might be a disappointment but our students held their own and proved me wrong! Poached pears and ice cream is something I often see on menus, and it is usually very nice, this dessert however came with a cardamom infused caramel brittle, the flavours were intense and exciting, which made this dessert very special indeed.

To finish the evening, our lovely waiter presented us with coffee and delicate petit fours of lemon & almond drizzle cake and fennel shortbread with chocolate ganache. Lots of people in my life claim to make the best lemon drizzle – sorry guys, this one wins hands down. It was vibrant and zesty and the perfect end to a lovely evening.

All in all my night at The Gallery made me brim with pride at the achievements of our students. The food was excellent and our attentive hospitality students ensured we were very well looked after.

If you get a chance, I would thoroughly recommend treating yourself to a dinner at Isaac, and George’s elegant and brightly charming restaurant on Gloucester Street – you won’t be disappointed!

If you are looking for a fine dining experience on a shoestring, then look no further than the College’s Gallery Restaurant, where you will find restaurant-quality food for a fraction of the price. For reservations and further information, please contact Restaurant Co-ordinator Stacey Pederson on

Rheanna Davidge-Huxley

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From aspiring actress to TV production professional – Chloe’s story

Meet former City College student Chloe – a TV professional working on top shows such as Pointless and Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish!

Post Production Supervisor/Producer Chloe Blackwell has had an impressive and exciting career in the TV industry since completing a Performing Arts course at City College in 2000Chloe Blackwell though she had very different ambitions when she began her studies. ‘When I first started the course, I wanted to be an actress,’ recalls Chloe. ‘However, during the course I also learnt about editing and shooting videos and that started another whole interest off that I’d never thought of before. I found with my tutors’ help that I really enjoyed the back stage and technical side far more than acting.’

After leaving College, Chloe did various temp work before securing a job as a secretary at a local TV production company, where she managed to move up the industry ladder: ‘Eventually I was moved into Post Production, where I really felt at home,’ she explains. ‘I then got my first major job in London, post-producing BBC Science shows. Following that contract, I decided to set up my own limited company Click Post Production and go freelance.

‘It took a giant leap of faith but I’m so glad that I made that decision because since then I’ve worked on lots of very exciting and rewarding projects, across all terrestrial channels. If I could speak to my younger self, I would say go freelance as soon as you can. I think I played it safe for too long!’

With studio productions such as Pointless and Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, Chloe faces the challenge of working on programmes that require a very quick turnaround to meet broadcasters’ demands, but when it comes to projects she has found most personally satisfying, she cites the BBC programme Celebrating Victory from 2015: ‘It was a 90 minute special for the 70th anniversary of V E Day that featured some previously unseen archive footage and was a very moving programme, so it felt special to have been involved in that. Overall though, probably the most rewarding aspect is just seeing shows go out on TV with my name on the credits. I’m also proud of being a woman in a man’s world, staying focused and working hard to get where I want to be.’ 

With freelance work keeping her booked up until 2017, these are busy times for Chloe and she still harbours long-term ambitions to work in TV drama or feature films. She shares the following advice with City College students who would like to follow in her footsteps: ‘My advice to anyone who is just starting out on their career path is be brave, be bold and don’t lose faith!’ 

For more information on Acting or Film-making courses at City College, call 01273 667759, email or see

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