Higher education students from Ellesmere Port were among those taking part in an annual graduation ceremony.

The ceremony, held in Chester Cathedral, was the first to be held following the merger of South and West Cheshire colleges, now known as Cheshire College - South and West. High achieving students were joined by family and friends.

Alexander McGonagle, 19, from Ellesmere Port, who achieved a BTEC HNC diploma in performing arts level 4, said: “I studied level 3 performing arts at the college but when I finished I didn’t feel quite ready for university.

“Continuing on to the level 4 course has given me the opportunity to study at the same level as a university course. It’s also given me the confidence to continue my studies and I’m currently applying to drama schools to start next September.”

Students graduated after studying more than 40 different higher education qualifications including foundation degrees and higher national diplomas in subjects such as computer science, fitness and health and construction as well as professional qualifications in accounting, human resources and management.

Jasbir Dhesi, known as Dhesi, principal and chief executive at the college, said: “This is our first graduation ceremony since we merged earlier this year and our higher education and professional qualifications are a very important part of our curriculum.

“With more than 400 students enrolled on our courses, the majority of whom study part-time, ensures that students can study whilst allowing for employment and family commitments.”

The college says its higher education and professional courses enable people of all ages and backgrounds to gain qualifications from level 2 to level 7.

As a partner college of local universities it can offer those undertaking foundation degrees and degrees a range of progression routes and other additional benefits.

Keynote speaker entrepreneur Tony Stone said: “What I’ve always done and would recommend is that you do something you’re passionate about.

“The world in 2017 really is your oyster, there is an opportunity for everyone to take even the smallest thought and turn it into a business and turn their passion into a career.”