Anglesey MP makes an emotional return to Coleg Harlech

The MP for Anglesey has revealed how a second chance college transformed his life.

Albert Owen was speaking during a return visit to Coleg Harlech to  officially open a new bistro and art gallery.

The other main guest of honour was Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and former National Assembly Presiding Officer, who worked as a tutor at the college in the 1970s.

Coleg Harlech’s residential campus in the Gwynedd castle town was established in 1927 by Tom Jones, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet to both David Lloyd-George and Stanley Baldwin.

Coleg Harlech merged with the Workers’ Educational Association in order to continue the work in a residential setting.

The organisation also offers courses in communities across North and Mid-Wales and is aimed particularly at helping adults to develop their capacity to learn and fulfil their potential.

The college has developed vocational education and training, including providing opportunities for socially and educationally disadvantaged adults.

Mr Owen recalled: “I was myself a student here at Coleg Harlech in 1992 when I studied Industrial relations and Welsh History.

“It’s wonderful to come back and visit what is now a modern facility in such an iconic building.

“The ethos of the college is so important. When I arrived here it was known as the College of Second Chance.

“However, for many of us it was actually more of a first chance. We weren’t expected to do well at school and were pushed into manual work as soon as we were able. Of course I had a thirst for knowledge and coming here to this college really was a turning point in my life.”

Mr Owen believes The Bistro will be a huge asset to the college and wider community.

He said: “My first working role was as a chef, or rather cook, after I joined the merchant navy as a young lad.

“I wanted to see the world and worked in a galley serving food although I hasten to add nothing like the wonderful fare Kevin Williams and his team produce at Coleg Harlech.

“Coleg Harlech, through this wonderful new facility, is bringing food, art and culture together and that has to be a winning combination.”

Coleg Harlech Principal Trefor Fȏn Owen was delighted that Albert Owen had agreed to officially open the new facilities.

He said: “Mr Owen is a shining example and a role model to our present day students to show what it is possible to achieve.

The first exhibition at the new gallery features the work of Anglesey photographer Glyn Davies who made global headlines when the Prime Minister gave two of his picture books as a wedding gift to Prince William and Kate Middleton.

His books, Anglesey Landscapes volumes one and two, which contain more than 100 breath-taking images of the island, were chosen by David Cameron who believed they would  be close to the prince’s heart.

In the meantime, Glyn, aged 47, has now sent the very first, signed copy of his latest volume, Welsh Light, to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

After sending the signed copy of Welsh Light to the Duke and Duchess, Glyn received a “lovely letter” from St James’ Palace thanking him and wishing him well.

Glyn, who runs  Oriel Glyn Davies Gallery, in Menai Bridge, joked: “I have invited them around to The Gallery for a coffee as they only live 10 minutes away, you never know they might just take me up on the offer!”

He says he was unprepared for the media storm that blew up after David Cameron purchased  two of his previous volumes to give to Prince William and his bride as wedding gifts.

Glyn was thrilled to be able to put on an exhibition of his work to coincide with the opening of the new Coleg Harlech bistro.

He said: “I hope my exhibition at Coleg Harlech fuels a passion in the viewer for the beautiful, wonderful landscapes that surround us here in North West Wales.”

The exhibition at Coleg Harlech features 14 dramatic images from Welsh Light.

Trefor Fôn Owen added: ““I’m delighted Glyn Davies agreed to exhibit some of his stunning works here.”

For further information about the Bistro and Gallery contact Kevin Williams on 01766 780363.  For more information about the courses available at Coleg Harlech WEA please ring 01766 781900 or email info@fc.harlech.ac.uk. You can also log on to www.harlech.ac.uk

Photograph: Albert Owen MP, officially opens the revamped area watched by College Principal Principal Trefor Fôn Owen and photographer Glyn Davies at the opening
, , ,