Gabriel Chaille & Sue Leeuwangh

A BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing student from Hereford College of Arts (HCA) has been commissioned to create an award in memory of Hereford Rugby Club stalwart, John Leeuwangh, who passed away in the summer of 2015.

Final year student Gabriel Chaille, from Illinois, USA, was commissioned to carry out the project by John’s widow Sue, and their two sons Jon and Paul. The junior section at Hereford had been Mr. Leeuwangh’s creation, and the rest of the family thought it would be fitting to honor him by presenting the club with a Clubman of the Year: Junior Section award.

After weeks of hard work and many challenges designing and creating the award, Sue visited Gabe at HCA’s University-level campus on College Road where he presented her with the award. “Mrs. Leeuwangh was brought to tears on seeing the award, and said that that it was better than she had dared hope,” said Gabriel. “That moment made all the frustrations of the project fade away as I was struck by the power of something I had made eliciting such an emotional response.”

Gabriel and BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing Course Leader, Del Done, were then invited to the club to watch the Hereford vs Worcester Wanderers game. Hereford won the match 10-3, and in the clubhouse after the game a speech was made in tribute to Mr. Leeuwangh, and Gabriel and the Leeuwangh family officially presented the award to the Club.

The BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing course at Hereford College of Arts is the only artist blacksmithing degree course in the country, taught at the HCA’s College Road Campus alongside fifteen undergraduate and postgraduate arts degree courses, and at Hereford and Ludlow College’s Rural Crafts Centre in Holme Lacy – home to the largest teaching forge in Europe. The course attracts students from all over the world, who want to study in a dedicated arts environment – HCA is one of only four colleges in the country dedicated entirely to the arts. For more information, visit

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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