Students’ achievements are to be celebrated belatedly with a ceremony at Colchester Town Hall.

University Centre Colchester will hold two graduations rolled into one, allowing students who were unable to graduate in-person last year a chance to celebrate passing their degrees with this year’s cohort.

UCC students from both 2020 and 2021 will attend a traditional ceremony in the town hall on Friday and Saturday.

There will be six graduation ceremonies over the two days with two guests of honour in attendance. Friday will see fashion designer, company director and UCC graduate Ashley Raynor attend the first three graduation ceremonies.

Miss Raynor graduated from UCC two years ago in Fashion and Textiles and went on to present her portfolio of work at New York Fashion Week in September 2019.

She then went on to work with numerous well-known companies both nationally and internationally including John Lewis, Nintendo and Amazon Prime, with her work featuring in more than 60 magazines.

She said: “Having only graduated from University Centre Colchester a few years ago, I was honoured to have been asked to be one of the guests of honour.

“It’s a fantastic university to be part of and I can’t wait to congratulate the students on their hard work and achievements despite the pandemic.”

The guest of honour for Saturday’s ceremonies will see executive director of the Mercury Theatre, Steve Mannix address students.

Mr Mannix has recently overseen the transformation of the Mercury Theatre following the £11.3 million Mercury Rising project.

Much of Mr Mannix’s work has contributed to global-scale events such as the 2012 London Olympics, The World Shakespeare Festival, Unlimited, and Artists Taking the Lead.

He said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be sharing in the celebrations of the Class of 2020 and 2021 as they graduate.

“Not only have they had to contend with completing their courses but they have also done this through a global pandemic.

“What an achievement and a real testimony for all their hard work and commitment.” The Dean of Higher Education at UCC Nils Franke also had words of praise for students and staff who had to cope with teaching and learning remotely for much of 2020.

He said: “The resilience of staff and students throughout the course of the pandemic has been incredible and this can be seen in the students’ work. “The graduation ceremonies will be a celebration of all of those achievements.”