Accrington PALS Memorial awash with colour, thanks to green fingered horticulture students  

Students from Lancashire Adult Learner’s Level 2 horticultural courses have been busy bringing the Accrington Pals memorial garden to life. 

Working in partnership with Hyndburn Borough Council the group of students and their teacher Kate Wels have been helping to plant hundreds of botanicals within the garden to bring the planting plan to life. 

The group of students worked tirelessly to complete more sections of the recently renovated garden. They were accompanied by members of staff from the Council’s Parks Department.   

Paving and lighting have been updated, and trees planted in the grounds already. Now the attention has shifted to the beds surrounding the Pals memorial. 

The Level 2 City and Guilds Practical Horticulture skills students are studying Horticulture at Lancashire Adult Learning, part of the Nelson & Colne College Group – which has been rated Number 1 in the country for adult learning, according to the recent National Achievement Rate Tables. 

The Accrington Pals memorial garden – in memory of the battalion who suffered devastating losses on 1st July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme – is not only an opportunity for the students to apply their new skills and horticultural knowledge, but also create something the community can enjoy for years to come.     

Kate Wels, a tutor with Lancashire Adult Learning, said: “I’ve had two groups involved – the first from Accrington and Rossendale College, and today’s group from Nelson and Colne College. The group are planting the yellow section of the planting plan today. It’s really nice that they’ve invested their time to add to such a great project.” 

The scheme aims to create a greener, more inviting space that honours the area’s rich heritage while fostering communal well-being.   

Kate added: “We’re having a lot of nice comments from people walking past. People are really happy to see it renovated, and all the work that’s gone into it. The idea is that it’s a beautiful but useable space for locals to come and sit and enjoy it.”  

The work is part of a £560,000 project to revitalise the Accrington Pals Memorial Garden in Church Street and other green spaces around the Accrington town centre over two years, paid for with a grant from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.   

Tina Foulds, 56, from Lostock Hall, is one of the Level 2 Horticulture students taking part in the project. 

She said: “I have an allotment. I wanted to know what I could grow, how to grow it, how to take cuttings. Last Year I did the level one and I really enjoyed it, so I’ve gone on to Level 2. We’ve just recently gone on to the garden design module and it’s nice to see it go from paper then to be able to do it on a project like this. It’s really fulfilling. It’s a massive sense of achievement, and great for your mental health.”  

Besides the landscaping and structural improvements, plans are under way for a new sculpture in the seating area by the Accrington Pals Memorial. The garden has been a venture led by Hyndburn Borough Council, supported by Accrington Town Centre Greening Group, the Royal British Legion and other partners.   

Mark Pickup, Senior Parks Development Officer at Hyndburn Borough Council, said: “It has been great to work closely with the college to help provide a colourful display with specially selected plants to further enhance the improvements to this important green space in Accrington’s town centre. It has been a great opportunity to showcase the horticulture course run by the college and also the dedicated staff in Hyndburn Borough Council’s parks department.” 

Unlock Your Potential: Adult Learning Opportunities abound at Lancashire Adult Learning

“It’s never too late to learn” says Andrew Parkin from Lancashire Adult Learning – part of the Nelson and Colne College Group.

Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) has just launched its latest adult learner campaign, encouraging those who want to upskill or reskill to progress in their career to return to the classroom.

The College has a full programme of both adult and university programmes that are now open for enrolment. 

From Easter, a number of adult courses will commence – including courses focusing on employability, health and social care, ICT and digital inclusion, languages and wider family learning. 

Higher Education University courses, starting in September, include computing, construction, engineering, business, finance and law, early years and education, sport, health and social sciences, and higher level apprenticeships. A list of courses can be found here.

Andrew Parkin, Assistant Principal for Adult Learning and Technical Curriculum, said: “With an impressive 96.2% success rate, Lancashire Adult Learning is the number one college in Lancashire for adult learners. 

“We understand that returning to study can feel daunting, but our expert tutors make you feel at ease and guide you through the course to ensure you get out of it as much as you put in.

“Both our adult courses and university courses equip people with the knowledge they need to upskill or reskill. There are a wide range of courses – some of them free – that will help you get back into work, support your family, or climb the career ladder.”

One of the students to benefit from the courses on offer is Haider, who once faced with redundancy due to Covid-19. He transformed his career trajectory by studying Health and Social Care at LAL. 

Guided by experienced tutors, he excelled and now serves as a Medical Lab Assistant as part of the NHS Histopathology department.

Haider has displayed true resilience and ambition throughout his adult learning journey and aspires to be a Biomedical Scientist.

Likewise, in pursuit of business expansion and a higher level of services, Danielle Coombes pursued Level 3 Hairdressing to upskill and elevate her salon’s offerings.

Her tutors are highly skilled and knowledgeable about the hair, beauty and barbering industry, which really helped to improve Danielle’s understanding of more complex techniques. Now, Danielle is implementing these skills in her salon.

Enquire now by contacting or visit

Nelson and Colne College Group Governor receives MBE

College Governor with long history of working in education recognised with MBE in New Year’s Honours for Services to Further Education

One of Nelson and Colne College Group’s (NCCG) Governors, Christine Kenyon, has received an MBE for Services to Further Education in this year’s New Year’s Honours. 

The MBE recognises Christine’s significant contributions to and innovative impact on further education over her 35-year career, including being at the forefront of technical further education reform nationally.

Having started her career as a part-time lecturer on a number of courses at Blackpool and Fylde College in 1989 while also running a mobile hairdressing business, in 1996 Christine was appointed Curriculum Manager for Hairdressing, which she led to becoming the first hairdressing department in the country to receive an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rating.

Christine subsequently held a range of management and senior leadership positions at Runshaw College and Blackburn College before joining The Manchester College as Vice Principal in 2014 and then being promoted to Deputy Principal in 2019. She joined the Governing Board at NCCG following her retirement from The Manchester College in September 2023.

Commenting on the MBE Christine said: “I feel humbled and proud to have received an MBE in recognition of my contributions to further education. Throughout my career I have had the privilege of working alongside so many talented colleagues and students – without whom I wouldn’t be receiving this award today. 

“Further education is a door that is always open to everybody regardless of their starting point. My career started with a course at my local further education college and I am a testament to the positive impact that a further education can have on your career aspirations. 

“My family have supported, encouraged and believed in me throughout my career and I can’t thank them enough. I am privileged to have worked alongside so many wonderful people and feel that I am accepting this award on behalf of them all.”  

In her roles in Further Education Christine devised and implemented Employer Partnership Strategies, enabling as many students as possible to access extended and meaningful work placements to broaden their skills and prepare them for work. She was also instrumental in the national launch of T Levels, using her experience to shape strategies to encourage employers to engage in the development of the new flagship technical qualification.

As part of this Christine worked with the Department for Education and the Gatsby Foundation to champion technical education and ensure it enables young people and adults to develop the skills they need to progress to sustained employment. 

Christine is no stranger to receiving Royal Honours, having been instrumental in The Manchester College being awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its ‘Careers not Courses’ strategy. 

Chair of Governor’s at NCCG Phil Wilkinson commented: “As a College we are exceptionally proud that Christine’s significant and extensive contributions to further education have been recognised with a richly-deserved MBE.

“Christine’s passion and enthusiasm to both champion further education and ensure that as many people as possible are able to benefit from it are unparalleled and we are delighted that she is sharing that passion and enthusiasm with us as a key member of our Governing Board. She has already brought so much to our discussions and is supporting NCCG to further enhance its alignment between technical education and employers, ensuring that as many people as possible leave further education with the skills they will need for a successful and rewarding career. 

“On behalf of everyone at the College I would like to congratulate Christine on receiving her MBE.”

The Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community. This will have had a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others.

Nelson and Colne College Group is an AoC Beacon Awards Finalist!

Lancashire Adult Learning, which is part of Nelson and Colne College Group, has made it through as a finalist in the prestigious AoC Beacon Awards, within the AoC Award for Widening Participation category, following the announcement at the AoC Conference in Birmingham earlier this week.

Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL), rated by Ofsted as Outstanding, works closely with a vast range of partners, providing access to education for the most vulnerable members of the community. Working across Lancashire in over 300 community venues, online, and directly with trusted partners such as Lancashire County Council, in 2022/23 LAL supported over 10,000 learners to achieve their education goals.  

The Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year. The work that LAL does to transform the lives of adult learners across the county is exceptional. In particular LAL’s response to the challenges that came from the continued closure of venues, throughout and after Covid. They worked tirelessly to continue to enable adult learners who lost access to venues to continue in learning and developing new skills, and it is this work that is unique, and has been recognised within this nomination. LAL continues to deliver excellent learning opportunities across the county, focussed on enhancing Lancashire’s skills base, reducing worklessness and supporting economic growth, whether this is through supporting individuals to upskill, start their career journeys, change their careers or support their children in their learning. 

Following the announcement Lisa O’Loughlin, the Principal and CEO of Nelson and Colne College Group, said “To say I am proud of the team and this nomination is an understatement. The work that Lancashire Adult Learning does in increasing participation in education across the County is truly remarkable. We work closely with a number of key partners, creating innovative ways to reach communities that are notoriously difficult to engage with, and are the number one College in Lancashire for adult learning. This recognition by the AoC is truly deserved and we look forward to the awards ceremony next year.”

Mark White CBE DL, Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said:

“The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises the critical role undertaken by boards, governors and governance professionals developing capacity for sustained improvement in the quality of provision for students.”

The AoC Beacon Award Winners will be announced in Spring 2024.  

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