Colin O'Dare Bursaries 2022


The Colin O'Dare Bursary is given annually by the Provincial Grand Charity of the Masonic Province of West Wales to encourage worthy students to further their education. There were two very strong candidates from Pembrokeshire College this year and the Trustees of the Charity decided to award them both a bursary to recognise their outstanding achievement in Higher Education.



Jessica (28) and Heather (31) are apprentices working with Valero Energy. Jessica aims to be a process operator after completing an apprenticeship in instrumentation and control. Heather looks to stay on as an instrumentation technician after completing the apprenticeship framework. Both took a big step in leaving full time paid jobs to commence onto the Valero/Pembrokeshire College bursary in 2020/2021, the bursary is set up to support learners in their studies. After a successful year, both progressed to an apprenticeship Jessica took three additional jobs in cleaning, Tesco’s and delivering Dominoes pizzas whilst Heather took on a newspaper delivery round as well as working in a motorbike shop. Throughout, Jessica and Heather have shared lifts to Pembrokeshire College and to Valero oil refinery so that they can be economic on a bursary/apprentice wage.


From the outset it was clear that Jessica and Heather were totally committed to achieving the best marks in academic and practical study. Both surpassed the highest standards we have seen in the engineering department to date. This was consolidated with a report from the City & Guilds external quality assurer who stated- ‘the portfolios I sampled belonging to Heather and Jessica were the best standard I have seen in my 30+ years at City & Guilds’.


Jessica and Heather have been instrumental in speaking with 14-16-year olds about their choices having attended the Pembrokeshire College secondary school’s road show. It was truly amazing to witness two confident role models talking to pupils on what their decisions mean. The highlight was that it is never to late to change direction in life as long as you are willing to learn. Both have flown the flag for females in technology having attended promotional days for females taking on roles in industry. From their experiences of the first year, Jessica and Heather started a WhatsApp group and a Monday coffee meet up to support a further two females in the following year intake of this course. The level of support has been amazing to witness and the four females have built a strong group of selfless support.  


It is pleasing to see that Jessica and Heather have applied to study higher education in September 2022, following operations and instrumentation respectively.


I cannot speak more highly of two dedicated learners who have re written what we expect from apprentices. We need more role models such as Jessica and Heather to inspire females going into technology, opening doors for anyone doubting their ability to study in this field- ‘truly standing on the shoulders of giants’.


Comments from Tracey Bryant- Learning and Development Manager at Valero Energy.

Both Heather and Jess have come into the industry having pursued other career avenues prior to gaining their places on the Valero apprenticeship programme. They have both become ambassadors for female apprentices and women in engineering. We see this daily in the passion, personal commitment and high standards they have demonstrated through their college studies, learning and working on-site and through their involvement in the college school presentations, the women’s network and volunteering activities within Valero. I would be delighted to see Heather and Jess jointly gain this award and recognition – I know that they both have the potential for a fantastic career ahead and I am excited to see what the future holds for them both.


James Ross, Head of West Wales Freemasons said: "Jess and Heather have achieved a great deal already and we are delighted to be able to help them continue with their education and training."

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