Hundreds of higher education students graduated at a stunning ceremony at West Lothian College on Saturday 26 October.

Students arrived at the campus in the winter sunshine to don their robes and enjoy a refreshment with family and friends who joined them to show their support.

Graduating students then took their seats to listen to speeches from the Chair of the college’s board of management, the principal and special guest speaker Shelley Kerr, Manager of Scotland’s National Women’s Football Team.

Shelley Kerr advised students to be fearless and take any chance they get to move forward. Shelley said: “A huge congratulations to all West Lothian College graduates. I left school with no qualifications but graduated later in life with a Masters in Sport Management at the University of Stirling. I didn’t achieve my degree through the typical route, and I wanted to stress that everyone has the ability to achieve things in their life. My advice to the students who were graduating was to be brave, be adventurous and, most of all, be you.”

After students received their graduation scrolls local MSP Angela Constance announced special Student of the Year awards that recognised those who stood out through their commitment to supporting others, representing the college, volunteering, or for achieving additional qualifications or being successful in competitions.

HNC Events graduate Alexander McDonald, HNC Childhood Practice graduate Connor Green, HND Software Development graduate Francesco Loria, and HNC Social Care graduate Julie Anne Graham were announced as the worthy winners. The Overall Student of the Year Award went to Olivia Rae who graduated with HNC Childhood Practice, and HNC Contemporary Art Practice graduate Breagh Reilly was awarded the SQA Student of the Year Award for outstanding academic achievement.

College principal, Jackie Galbraith, presented a new award that recognises a person who has made a huge difference to students at the college over the year. The first ever recipient of the West Lothian College Ambassador Award was Donna Paterson-Harvie, who is the founder of the charity Neil’s Hugs Foundation that helps families in West Lothian affected by suicide and mental health problems.

Jackie said “Donna supports students across the college to develop some of the critical skills that employers are always looking for. She also helps students with poor mental health, encouraging an openness about mental health and helping to reduce the stigma surrounding it. Donna is an inspirational woman and a truly amazing friend to our students and staff, and I was delighted to present her with our first ever West Lothian College Ambassador Award.”