YORK College has staged its first in-person graduations since 2019 when former students of its university centre gathered in York Minster for ceremonies postponed for up to two years because of the Covid pandemic.

More than 150 graduates, from 10 areas of study, made their way from Museum Gardens to the cathedral, where they each received recognition from York College Chief Executive and Principal Lee Probert, before an audience of VIP visitors, family and friends.

The event involved students who finished their courses in 2020 and 2021.

Former Manor School pupil, Luke Walker, 23, who gained a BA Hons in Graphic Design, said:“I never thought I’d get a day like this – I’d written off a graduation ceremony."

Luke, who has since found employment with a Harrogate graphic design company, was also recognised at the ceremony as Most Determined Student in York College’s accompanying Special Awards.

Graduate Aniqah Rahman, 21, was at the Minster with her family, to celebrate her BA Hons in Media Make-up. She said she hopes to work as a freelancer in the media make-up industry and has already worked on the Channel Four series Ackley Bridge.

“It feels so good to finally graduate,” she said. “I’m actually quite nervous after all this time. It’s strange to see people in person again rather than on Zoom meetings.”

Fellow Media Make-up graduate, Helen Pritchard, 38, said: “We all went home one day in March 2020 and we said ‘see you next week’ and I haven’t seen some of them again until today. The tutors promised us we would have a graduation and we have. The tutors have been fantastic.”

College Chief Executive and Principal, Lee Probert said the ceremony was a poignant moment for everyone.

“It’s hard to overstate the amount of dedication, flexibility and hard work which these students displayed throughout the pandemic and ensuing lockdown, to ensure the successes they are deservedly celebrating today,” he said.

“It’s not just a proud moment for York College and the families of our graduates, but also a moment to reflect on the incredible efforts our tutors and staff made throughout a prolonged and difficult time for further and higher education."

Sarah Barbacane, Director of Curriculum, said: “It’s so good to finally see these students getting their big day.

“A graduation ceremony is not only about achievement, but also new beginnings and the anticipation of exciting careers or further learning. Because the students here today have had to wait a long time for their graduation, many of them have already embarked on the next steps in their lives and it’s great to catch-up and hear their stories.

“I’m genuinely thrilled for them all.”

York College's graduation ceremony for 2022 will take place on September 22 in the Minster.