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Welcome to our Autumn newsletter!

Summer seems a long time ago now but we were thrilled with the outstanding examination results achieved by our students. Their hard work and determination paid off and we couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments with many taking up prestigious places at university or going into employment.

In addition to academic achievements, the summer also marked the success of many current and former students who represented England and Great Britain at the IBSA World Games. They competed in Goalball, Cricket, Partially Sighted Futsal and Blind Football, showcasing exceptional sporting skills. Notably, the England Women's Blind Football team made history by participating in their first ever international tournament, inspired by the Lionesses who have made great strides in women's football.

A jam-packed term has seen students engaging in a wide range of activities, many related to their field of study, providing opportunities for growth and personal development. We hope you enjoy reading about what we've been up to here at the College and out in the community.

As this term draws to a close and the festive spirit fills the air, we wish you a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

College news round up

Students whip up Bake Off bonanza

the star bakers stand holding their cake with the two judges and the event organiser

Proving that baking is for everyone, RNC student Fionn Holden, organised a Great British Bake Off-style event for his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). 

The competition, held on 19 December, brought together four enthusiastic teams of RNC staff and students, all visually impaired except for one staff member who donned "sim specs" to experience baking with macular degeneration.

The teams were tasked with creating a decorated chocolate sponge tray bake within two hours. Once given their ingredients the competition got underway with all the fun and camaraderie shown on the real Bake Off programme. For those watching on, it also provided an opportunity to see how blind and visually impaired people are able to navigate the kitchen with a variety of special techniques, adapted equipment and specialist equipment such as talking scales and talking thermometers.

Christmas card-making and present wrapping

students and staff member around a table engrossed in making Christmas cards

The RNC elves were very industrious at the Braille Inn earlier in December. They spent an evening wrapping Christmas presents and making personalised Christmas cards with the help of Beth (Activities Co-ordinator), Julie (Bar Manager) and Barbara, one of our wonderful volunteers. There was also a sing-a-long to all the popular festive tunes with everyone 'simply having a wonderful Christmas time!'. 

A visit to to the Panto


Early in December a group of students stepped into the world of Dick Whittington and his cat Tiddles, when they attended this year's panto at Hereford's Courtyard Theatre. 

Before the curtain rose on the pantomime, our enthusiastic theatre goers were given a touch tour. This type of tour allows people with visual impairment to explore the set, props and costumes through touch, which really helps the imagination and gives a better understanding of the set before sitting down to enjoy the performance. Our students were also able to handle the props and costumes giving them a sense of size, shape and texture - the seagull was a particular hit! 

Following the tour it was show time. It was a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours, with all the traditions of panto, and everyone had a brilliant time. Thanks to staff and volunteers Claire, Barbara, Elvira and Heather for leading and supporting the trip.

Santa Fun Run

The students stand at the side of the lake wearing Santa hats and smiling

This year's Santa Fun Run at Llandrindod Wells Lake Park (in aid of St Michael's Hospice) was also a chance for RNC students to get outdoors and have some Christmas fun. 

Despite the damp weather, spirits were high as the group tackled the obstacle course around the lake. A big thank you to Lisa, Katie, Eliot, and Kevin for making this event so enjoyable.

Spotlight on the Career Education, Information, Advice and Guidance Team

Guoguo lo res

The Career Education, Information, Advice and Guidance Team (CEIAG) are lucky enough to work with all RNC students. 

Delivery consists of Career Education (CE) in Years 1 and 2, the organisation of work based learning and mock interviews, and the provision of information, advice and guidance (IAG) in one-to-one transition sessions and career interviews, or during higher education sessions. 

Our NEXT STEP programme invites external and internal speakers to present on a range of subjects/issues, which range from employment, self-employment, and benefits through to apprenticeships and access to work applications.

During the Autumn Term, we have been working hard on getting students into work placements related to their career goals. 28 students have started work placements this term with a range of internal colleagues and external organisations. Further placements will be starting in the Spring Term. A few students are also doing weekly work-based learning as part of their business course and will continue with this work in Work Experience Week.

The CEIAG Team is always on the look out for potential work experience and work placement providers to give RNC students real world experience. Simply email sophia.lloyd@rnc.ac.uk to discuss how your business can partner with us.

Massage students gain valuable professional development

A massage student being guided through techniques by an experienced therapist on the lower back of a client

A group of Massage and Complementary Therapies students paid a visit to the Cotswold Academy, based in Cirencester, in November. They met with Chris, the Academy owner, along with other experienced therapists, and discussed the intricacies of self-employment, which provided the students with an understanding of the challenges and rewards associated with running a successful therapy clinic.

Following the discussion, Chris and his team conducted an engaging workshop focused on postural assessment of the lower back and various treatment techniques.

Students explore new hobbies and interests

two students and a staff member sit round a craft table smiling with material and dye cutting tools in front of them

At RNC, our Learning and Leisure sessions provide students with the opportunity to engage in activities that aren’t central to their studies. Our students have a wide range of options to explore, which include art and crafts, sport and computer gaming. 

Recently, we visited the Craft Club and were amazed by the students' creativity as they crafted their own hedgehog designs for tote bags. From carefully selecting fabrics to expertly using die-cutting tools, the air was filled with a sense of calm and focus as students meticulously worked on their individual designs. 

Our Learning and Leisure sessions help with personal growth and development beyond the classroom, and we encourage all students to take advantage of these opportunities to discover new talents and passions.

Music studio collaboration reignited

two RNC students are pictured with the HCA band around the mixing desk in the music studio

After navigating the challenges posed by the global pandemic and overcoming the hurdles of studio relocation, the Audio Music Production team at RNC are delighted to announce the return of Year 2 Extended Diploma Music students from Hereford College of Arts (HCA) to record at the new Eveson Audio Music studio.

Students take a business trip to Hay-on-Wye

A group of business students, staff and volunteers stand in front of Hay Castle

As part of their Level 2 Business course, two students organised a field trip to Hay-on-Wye for the Level 1 Business group.

The trip proved to be both informative and engaging as the students explored local businesses and had conversations with numerous traders during the bustling Hay-on-Wye market day. They also visited lots of independent shops, gathering information to help with their assignment.  A trip like this really brings their studies to life. 

The Royal British Legion was holding a coffee morning and staff and students were invited in to eat their lunch which provided welcome respite from the cold weather. The smiles in the photo say it all, and thanks to staff members Kathryn, Tref and Nigel, along with volunteers Jane and Phil for supporting the trip.

A spooktacular night!

Daria Apple Bobbing

A Halloween party, organised by nine EPQ students, was a hauntingly good time! From eerie decorations to epic costumes, it was a celebration to remember! 

Congratulations to Syd, Reuben, Sam, and Emma for transforming the venue into a hall of spooky-ness! There were so many haunting costumes, it was hard to decide on one winner, so prizes went to Dominic, Jack, Katie and Daisy. The costumes were wickedly impressive. 

It wouldn't be a Halloween party without some apple bobbing, and well done to everyone who took the plunge and embraced the soggy challenge. 

Julie at the Braille Inn had a very busy time at the bar and said, in her nine years of working at the College, she had never seen so many amazing costumes. Well done and thank you to all of the organisers - Emma, Fionn, Freya, Murts, Raven, Reuben, Sam, Sonali and Syd - who made this spooky soirée a howling success!

Students provide relaxing massages for hardworking NHS staff

Students Daria in the foreground with Pippa (left) and Ryley (right) working on their clients

During Hereford Hospital’s Wellbeing Week in October, hardworking NHS staff were treated to a range of massages provided by Massage and Complementary Therapies students from the College. 

The students, equipped with their portable massage chairs, offered a variety of treatments to target the common areas of tension, such as the head, neck, back and shoulders, providing soothing massages to help alleviate muscle tightness and promote relaxation.

Over a two-day period, their clients included medical students, consultants and those that had just completed their demanding ward shifts. Attending events like this provides RNC students with opportunities to gain valuable hands-on experience in a real-world setting and gives them a chance to refine their skills and build confidence.

Thank you to Hereford Hospital for inviting the students along to the event and we hope the students were able to provide a moment of tranquillity and rejuvenation from the daily stresses of the hospital environment.

Students enjoy a night of football at Edgar Street

A group of staff and students in the stand at Hereford Football Club after watching the match

RNC students attended the National League North fixture between Hereford FC and Brackley Town FC at the Edgar Street stadium in October. 

The Bulls took an early lead against lively opposition - the goal coming from Ceesay in the 6th minute. It was the only goal in a very entertaining match with a crowd of nearly 2000 in attendance. Some students listened to the commentary on the accessible headsets provided by the Club, while others listened to Radio Hereford FC on their phones. The students loved the atmosphere and enjoyed joining in some of the chants and clapped the teams as they came off the field. 

Experiences like these are great socials occasions allowing students to engage with the wider community and immerse themselves in the excitement of live sports. Thanks to Hereford FC Community for the tickets, and to everyone at the Club for looking after us so well. Thanks also to RNC staff Tom, Jim, Lisa and Angie for supporting the trip. FT: Hereford FC 1-0 Brackley Town FC

Massage students help international hockey players with match preparation and recovery

The teams line up for a group photo. Pippa and Jim are far left and Antonia and Freya are far right. Freya's guide dog Lennon lies beside her.

Two students and two members of staff from RNC’s Massage and Complementary Therapies Department seized the opportunity to showcase their skills at two international friendlies featuring the Welsh and Dutch over 60s hockey teams.

The matches took place in October at the prestigious Sports Wales National Centre based at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. 

Massage students Freya and Pippa, supported by staff members Jim and Antonia, provided pre and post match massage to both competing teams. The feedback from the players was overwhelmingly positive. The Dutch striker, in particular, was on great form scoring three goals in two games, and specifically thanked Freya for the massage before both games. 

Both Freya and Pippa were a crucial part of the teams’ preparation and recovery, which also gave them a unique insight into what it is like to work with athletes in a tournament setting. This type of workplace learning really helps with personal and professional development and our students, under the guidance of Jim and Antonia, were able to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and expertise, working on international athletes in an impressive national stadium.

A touch tour of Hereford Cathedral

Picture taken at altar back row (L-R) Kai and Mollie. Front row (L-R) Hazal, Katie, Alyssia, Revd Canon Maureen, Emmy, Sonali and Michal.

In October, a group of students were given the opportunity to participate in a touch tour of Hereford Cathedral, led by Raymond and Reverend Canon Maureen. 

During the tour, the students were able to get up close and physically interact with areas not normally accessible to the general public, such as the high altar. Additionally, the students sat in the choir stalls. Raymond also arranged for an organist to play the organ for the students during their visit.

Huge thanks to Raymond and Reverend Canon Maureen for hosting such an informative and memorable tour. This tactile exploration enhanced the students' understanding and appreciation of the rich history and architectural intricacies of the Cathedral.

A Level students enjoy an immersive experience of the
'Scottish Play'

A group of students with staff and volunteers in the foyer of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

A Level English Literature and History students travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon in October to attend one of the RSC's audio-described performances of Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth. 

The play was being performed at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre located on the banks of the River Avon. 

On arrival students were treated to a sensory touch tour; a pre-show experience allowing them to engage with the production’s costumes, set and various props. They were able to
feel textures and intricate details and sense the size and shapes of elements of the set,
which helped them gain a deeper understanding of the visual aspects, complementing the audio descriptions later during the performance. Especially memorable were the rubber severed hands and dead birds!

Celebrating European Day of Languages

Students and staff sitting and standing around a table with lots of plates of European food to taste

Did you know that 26 September is European Day of Languages? It's a day dedicated to celebrating the rich tapestry of languages across Europe and RNC's staff and students had lots of fun celebrating.

During the celebrations we were amazed to find that we had a whopping 15 different languages spoken fluently among us, and we also discovered that between us we can say 'Hello' in 25 different languages.

Of course, no celebration would be complete without food, and at lunchtime students savoured some of the flavours of Europe. From Spain there were delicious tortillas and tantalising hams and chorizo. Taste buds then travelled to Germany with delectable German canapes, followed by scrumptious ginger biscuits before ending with a cheese extravaganza from France. 

While enjoying the European tour of food, students were also immersed in the captivating rhythms of different European music which set the scene for conversations about the importance of language.

First choice universities all round for RNC students

A full group of staff and students - the class of 2023

A Level students celebrated this summer after securing their first choices at university.

The results were in line with general trends across the UK, with 36% of A Level examinations taken graded A*-A. 61% of examinations taken were graded at C and above, and overall, 94% of A Level examinations taken were graded as a pass. 

Sports news

Partially sighted futsal team showcases skills in challenge match

The Red Team standing in a row, each wearing a pair of sim specs apart from the goalkeeper on the end

RNC's partially sighted futsal team challenged a fully sighted team to a match in the run up to Christmas.

The match was held in the Sports Hall at thePoint4, and to give the fully sighted team (The Reds) a taste of what it's like to play with limited vision, they were asked to wear simulation glasses during their warm-up.

Following the warm-up the players were asked about their experience.

RNC's partially sighted team stand in goal in two rows

Fourth place for Goalball players in Europe

Goalball trio

Following the excitement of selection for Team GB at the IBSA Goalball European Championships, staff member Antonia Bunyan, and student Megan Smithson-Booth, ended their run in the competition this month in fourth place.


The team had an outstanding tournament making it through to the Bronze medal match but sadly lost out to Greece. The game finished GB 0-1 Greece.

GB Women have plenty to be proud of after a week of tough competition in Montenegro. 

Well done to Head Coach Aaron Ford, all the players and everyone who supports in the background. 

Top of the League for Christmas

two RNC players defend the goal, the goalkeeper stands on his line and a guide is in view behind the goal netting

Match Day 2 of the National Blind Football League took place on 9 December at Netherton Activity Centre on Merseyside. RNC have teams in both the Premiership and Championship divisions.

The RNC Premiership team, comprising Dylan Malpas, Kieran Clarke, Brandon Coleman, Owen Bainbridge and Azeem Amir, took wins from both of their games. Their 1-0 triumph against West Bromwich Albion set the tone for the day, followed by victory against Merseyside Blind & VI FC 1-0.

Meanwhile, RNC's Championship team, consisting of Jack Offord, Alice Hopkins, Ollie Johnson, Luci Wyrwantowicz and Katie Christopher, also impressed with their spirited performance.

With Match Day 2 concluded, RNC sits top of the Premier League for Christmas, with the Championship team making significant strides, highlighting their potential for continued growth and success.

RNC kicks off European Blind Football League (EBFL) season with a bang

RNC's Blind Football team and back room staff in the goal, arranged in two rows, the back row stands and the front row kneels

RNC's Blind Football team started their EBFL 2023/24 campaign with a convincing 8-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the opening tournament held in Greece. The team, hosted by Pirsos Thessaloniki, played two matches in the tournament, showcasing some impressive skills.

RNC faced a tougher challenge against Cécifoot Charleroi, the 2022/23 League Winners. Despite the stiff competition, RNC emerged victorious, with a 2-0 win.

Next steps for aspiring athletes

A group of five students with their tutor stand in front of a gigantic baseketball jersey on the wall in the University of Worcester sports hall

Aspiring athletes on the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) gained valuable insights at the TASS Next Steps event hosted at the University of Worcester early in December. The Scheme supports young athletes, nominated by their national governing bodies, on their talent pathway.

The TASS Next Steps event provided students with an enriching experience, encompassing workshops on Nutrition and Sports Psychology, as well as opportunities to connect with various universities.

As a TASS Dual Accredited Career Centre, RNC is committed to supporting its aspiring athletes, empowering them to reach their full potential in both academic pursuits and their chosen sports.

First win of the season for RNC's partially sighted footballers

RNC's Partially Sighted Football Team and Coaching staff are pictured. Back row from L-R: Kyron, Ryley, Bobbie-Jack, George and Mike Front row from L-R: Callum, Conna, Murts, Sienna and Dylan

The first fixtures of this season’s Partially Sighted Football League got underway in October at the David Ross Sports Village at the University of Nottingham. 

Before the matches began, there was a touching tribute to RNC member of staff Phil (Dixie) Dean, with everyone coming together to celebrate his life. A minute's silence was observed, followed by a minute's round of applause, honouring his memory and his contribution to the sport. 

RNC have a team in this year’s Championship League, and Head Coach, Dylan Malpas, said: 

'It was an emotional day being the first tournament without having Dixie with us, but the group gave 100 per cent effort and played all day with smiles on their faces. It was great that RNC got their first win of the season and we are looking forward to building on the performances in two weeks time when we are back in action for the second round of fixtures.' 

With the first win under their belt and a third place League standing, RNC have paved the way for an exciting season ahead.

Judo is back!

Phil demonstrating one of the throws with a student. Carol watches on and other students can be seen in the background

In September it was new students, new term and new opportunities and time for current students to dust of their gi, tie those belts and step back onto the mat. 

Students enjoyed their first Judo lesson of the new academic term, quickly picking up some new throws in the process. They are trained by British Judo Association Coach and Referee Carol Leverton, and with Carol's experience and enthusiasm RNC's Judo Academy has developed and Judoka (Judo participants) numbers have expanded. Carol is supported by RNC staff member Phil Whittall, who is also rising through the Judo ranks. 

Thanks to Carol and Phil for continuing to inspire our students and get them involved in such an inclusive sport. Judo itself is a great way for students to enhance confidence and self-awareness, improve balance and strengthen their communication skills.

Staff news

RNC teacher clinches victory as Britain's Strongest Disabled Man

Aaron picks up the trophy

In a stunning display of strength and determination RNC teacher Aaron Rees has secured the coveted title of Britain's Strongest Disabled Man 2023. He emerged victorious after claiming second place at England's Strongest Man earlier this year.

Aaron is Teacher in Charge of Sport and Recreation at RNC and has worked at its Hereford campus for 16 years. Despite facing the challenges of Retinitis Pigmentosa, Aaron has proved that visual impairment doesn't hold him back, with a successful career in teaching and now winner of a national competition, all just as he turned 40 years of age. Aaron has shown that strength has no boundaries.

Fundraising news

The Fundraising Department has been bustling with activity throughout the year and you'll read news of successful funding bids, grand openings, general fundraising and challenge events throughout this newsletter.

Monies raised enable us to buy necessary new equipment, upgrade out of date kit, refurbish areas of our campus and buy in the latest resources. Crucially, donations enable our students to have enriching extra curricular experiences which aren't covered by their general funding. Every donation really does change lives and we're incredible grateful for your support.

If you would like to receive a comprehensive Fundraising newsletter (our Supporter News) alongside our general newsletter, please update your preferences via the blue button below.

Will Writing Month March 2024

A poster showing the RNC logo and two people and a dog walking on the beach by the sea at sunset. Text reads as in the accompanying text

If you haven’t yet made a Will, make March 2024 the month to put that right. 

Local Legal Consultant Alan Hing of Mundy’s in Hereford will kindly waive his usual Will Writing fee for a suggested donation of £150 single/£250 mirror straightforward Will, to RNC. 

Dates are available throughout March and can be arranged by contacting Alan at 

Mundy’s, 4 King Street, Hereford HR4 9BW, by email: ah@mundys.co.uk or by telephone 01432 265 630. Online meetings can be arranged. 

For more information, please contact the Fundraising Team on 01432 376 387 or email fund@rnc.ac.uk

Taking up the challenge

5 Hereford Courier runners who are taking on the Brighton and London marathons

We're always grateful when individuals or groups of friends with a shared interest get together to support our work with a fundraising challenge.

Next Spring, six members of Hereford Couriers Running Club are running in two different marathons: five of them tackling Brighton and one, Ieuan Vale-Smith, with a place in the hallowed TCS London Marathon, both in April.

Between them, the runners will complete an impressive 253 kms, almost the same distance as travelling from Hereford to London and back again! The six Couriers taking part are: Ben Brown, Ryan Lawrence, Kieran Merrick, Kieran Whittall and Ieuan Vale-Smith (see photo above) and Freya Collins (see photo below).

The team are training hard, out and about on Club runs around Hereford on weekday evenings as well as following their own training plans so you might see them in their distinctive Hereford Couriers running vests and safety lights!

To donate to our Brighton marathon runners' page, please search for them on the official Brighton fundraising pages here.

To donate to Ieuan's TCS London Marathon challenge, please click here.

Freya who is running the Brighton marathon is pictured with a medal from the Great Birmingham Run

Life-saving public defibrillator installed on College campus

Pictured: L-R: Bridie Sullivan, Zac Brimble and Melanie Denning, RNC's Fundraising Manager

The residents and surrounding community of Venns Lane where the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) is situated have Herefordshire Community Foundation (HCF) to thank for funding a brand new public access defibrillator.

The defibrillator is located just outside RNC's Reception below the car park (off Campbell Road), allowing for 24-hour access in an emergency by calling 999 and obtaining the code to unlock the cabinet.

Pupils of St Thomas Cantilupe CE Primary School raise funds for RNC as part of the Archbishops' Young Leader Award

The Class 4 pupils join their teacher and RNC's fundraising manager for a group photo. Two pupils at the front proudly display their framed Young Leader Award

In July, the pupils of Class 4 at St Thomas Cantilupe Church of England Primary School organised a fete as part of their Archbishops' Young Leader Award. This initiative aims to foster confidence, teamwork and resilience among pupils, empowering them to make a positive difference in their communities. For their project, Class 4 decided to hold a fete which would raise funds for RNC.

Under the guidance of their teacher, Ms Katy Harris, the students planned a fantastic fete and devised a range of engaging stalls to entertain and raise money. Visitors to the fete were invited to participate in activities like the "tin can alley" and the intriguing "what's in the box?" challenge, and there was no shortage of delicious cakes to enjoy. 

Official opening of the new sensory garden

Guests walk around the new sensory garden

Over 20 invited guests, including corporate and trust funders, attended a tour of RNC's new sensory and working gardens in late August, which were formerly opened by the Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Jacqui Carwardine.

Despite the wet weather, visitors were pleased to see how a once plain patch of grass has been transformed, through over £45,000 of funding, into an oasis of calm and beauty with accessible paths, a water feature, raised beds and seating areas, all bordered by highly scented planting.

Dates for your diary...

World Braille Day

4 January 2024

Half Term

12-16 February 2024

Spring Term starts

8 January 2024

RNC Activity Week

13-16 February 2024

College Open Day

26 January 2024

Will Writing Month

1-31 March 2024

Work Experience Week

5-9 February 2024

Spring Term ends

22 March 2024

Have-a-Go Weekend

10-11 February 2024

Festival of Football @ thePoint4 

30 March 2024

The Royal National College for the Blind

Venns Lane



Tel: 01432 265 725

Email: info@rnc.ac.uk

Web: www.rnc.ac.uk