July 13, 2024

Award for pioneering college focused on the climate and ecological crisis

Powys Business Awards 2023. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography. PB187-2023

A pioneering college dedicated to addressing the climate and ecological crisis was a winner at this year’s Powys Business Awards.

Black Mountains College (BMC), which is based in Talgarth and employs 25 staff, collected the Small Business Award – under 30 employees – sponsored by WIPAK at the annual awards ceremony held at The Hafren, Newtown on Friday, October 20.

Organised by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group (MWMG) with support from sponsors, the coveted annual awards, which began in 2009, are open to companies, organisations, social enterprises and charities.

Established in 2019, BMC is a formal educational institution dedicated entirely to climate action and adaptation. The college has developed a unique inter-disciplinary programme to provide the mindsets and skills needed to tackle global warming.

More than 1,000 people have taken short courses either online or in person and BMC offers further education in partnership with NPTC Group of Colleges

and a world first degree – a BA (Hons) in Sustainable Futures: Arts, Ecology and Systems Change – validated by Cardiff Metropolitan University, a partner.

The three-year degree offers a radical curriculum covering arts, ecology and the application of technology, addressing real-world challenges practically and holistically. It is taught by BMC staff, globally renowned visiting academics and researchers.

BMC enrolled 52 NVQ students and 13 undergraduates in the 2023-‘24 academic year starting in September. The college aims to increase this to 71 NVQ students and 120 undergraduates by 2026-‘27.

Ecological Futures Camps are held every summer for marginalised young people from urban areas to introduce them to nature and the BMC concept of a university experience that is very different and inclusive. The college wants half the undergraduate programme entrants to come from “non-traditional” routes.

Generous support from partners and donors enabled BMC to secure £1.2m development and revenue funding and a 50-year lease of Troed yr Harn farm campus, where there is a focus on practical outdoors learning in nature.

Ben Rawlence, BMC’s chief executive, said: “Our mission is to drive change. Our aim is to be catalyst for the creation of a resilient society able to weather mounting climate shocks: environmental, economic, and political.”

After receiving the award, BMC’s chief operating officer Christianne Wakeham said: “This award is a really good accolade for our growing team after a very busy year and justification for the effort that we all put in, especially our chief executive Ben Rawlence. He has spent six years getting us up and running.”

Powys Business Awards judges said: “Black Mountain College is unique. The team of people are passionate about what they do and supported by enthusiastic and ambitious leadership. Powys has a story to tell here.”

The award runners up were ESCO/ M&S Pizza, New Radnor and PM Training & Assessing Ltd, Crickhowell.

Picture caption:

Sales manager Wayne Hallsworth from sponsor Wipak, presents the Small Business Award to Christianne Wakeham and Deborah Lloyd from Black Mountains College watched by host Claire Summers.