New College Digital Hub Named After Late Deputy Principal

The Henley College opened their brand new Digital Skills and Enterprise Hub, ‘The Cuthbert Suite’, yesterday which is named after their late Deputy Principal, Simon Cuthbert who sadly passed away last year, aged just 54.

Simon began work at The Henley College in 1987 as a Physics teacher and was dedicated to his career, going on to become Head of Physics, Head of Science, Head of Faculty, Acting Principal and Deputy Principal. Known for his optimism, sharp mind and supportive manner, Simon had a passion for excellence and inclusion in education.

Members of staff and students, past and present gathered to pay tribute to their late colleague and Principal Satwant Deol presented a memory book to Simon’s wife Penny Cuthbert, guest of honour and ribbon cutter. Other guests present at the opening ceremony included The Mayor of Henley along with representatives from stakeholders involved in the Suite including: Fasset Construction, LTS Architects, Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA), Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), Peter Marsh Consulting, Association of Colleges (AOC), the Student Union and College Governors.

Penny said, “It is such a delight to be here today.  As our family, we are deeply moved and very proud to have that plaque outside the door and what this would have meant to Simon.  It’s just over a year, nearly to the day, that Simon came home from work feeling unwell and we had no idea what the year was going to contain for us and we still can’t believe he has gone.  We are so grateful to everyone at the college for the love that they shown us whilst Simon was ill and since.  Simon loved The Henley College. He had very happy and fulfilling career here and I think that he stayed here so long was because that he felt it was like a family and he was cared for by the staff here.  It would have meant a lot to him to be remembered in this way.  He would have been faintly amused but I think deep inside he would have been quite proud and humbled for what you have done for him today.”

The project has been supported by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). OxLEP have secured £500,000 of funding via the Government’s Local Growth Fund towards a programme of Hubs at The Henley College (of which the Cuthbert Suite is one). The overall cost of the programme is £1 million.

The new hub will accommodate pop-up enterprise spaces, innovation hubs and digital skills teaching spaces along with areas to support students including careers and student services. There is full Wi-Fi connectivity and smart screens throughout with futuristic style booths to enable group student work and presentations. The aim is to prepare students for their future careers by embedding entrepreneurial and employability skills.

Satwant Deol, Principal and Chief Executive of The Henley College said “The announcement and implementation of these plans is at very exciting time for The Henley College. The opportunity to deliver 21st century skills for our students will not only help their employability, but also ensure their future success. We would like to thank the Oxfordshire LEP for their contribution that will enable us to build and grow our provision providing a strong and innovative College for our future generations. To be able to remember our dear colleague Simon Cuthbert by naming our new Digital area, ‘The Cuthbert Suite’ is a very fitting way to pay tribute to him.”

Adrian Lockwood of OxLEP said, “It is critical that we maintain the pipeline of enthusiastic people coming through with relevant skills.  There is no doubt about it that digital skills underpin pretty much every business that we have got in the county.  Simon was an enthusiastic supporter of our programme and worked very well with us.  We are delighted and proud to have supported this initiative through a wider funding programme with The Henley College.  Sadly Simon isn’t here to see the fruits of his labour which is such a shame.  However I think naming this, The Cuthbert Suite is a very fitting legacy to his ethos for what he did to support what we believe in and what we want to continue to achieve within Oxfordshire.”

Emily Foster, Student Union President said, “I think it looks really good. I think it will used a lot by students for social study (you can talk about things whilst studying) unlike the library which is very much for silent study.  I think it’s a great addition as at the moment everyone is trying to use the canteen which should just be for eating and not for doing work.”

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