Student chosen to represent classmates as student union president at Tyne Coast College

Matthew Laidler, front right, with, from left,  union executive members Oliver Keogh, Ahmed Al Shamsi, Connor Wright, and Evan Thompson.
Matthew Laidler, front right, with, from left, union executive members Oliver Keogh, Ahmed Al Shamsi, Connor Wright, and Evan Thompson.

An engineering trainee from South Tyneside hopes to put fresh wind in a Students’ Union’s sails after being elected as President.

Matthew Laidler has taken on the role at Tyne Coast College - formed last year from the merger of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet), in North Tyneside.

The 17-year-old, from Sullivan Walk, Hebburn, heads a six-strong executive which is supporting students at South Tyneside College, South Shields Marine School, TyneMet, and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, in North Shields.

Each previously had its own Students’ Union but they were wound into one when South Tyneside College and TyneMet merged in August last year, creating Tyne Coast College.

Matthew, who hopes to join the Royal Navy, was appointed after winning a vote of confidence from 16,000 students.

He said: “Last year saw the first Tyne Coast College Students’ Union, and, this year, there is an excellent executive whose members have come up with some really positive ideas as to how to improve the role of the union and the life of our students.

“In my own role, I also feel a lot more experienced due to having been involved with the union last year.”

Matthew, who studies at South Tyneside College, added: “On a personal note, I’m very proud to have been elected President of the Students’ Union.

“I think I got the vote of confidence in large part because of how well I my pitched my ideas and how they were received by students. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.”

He recently headed the first meeting of the union’s executive which agreed to examine the possible launch of an anti-smoking campaign and the introduction of an Easter market.

Matthew has identified a high numbers of students smoking between lectures - and hopes a better health message will inspire some to quit.

The markets’ initiative could see independent traders temporarily setting up shop within college campuses.

Matthew is being supported by union Vice-President Oliver Keogh, 16, from North Shields, and Executive members Connor Wright, 16, from Hebburn, Evan Thompson, 16, overseas student Ahmed Al Shamsi, 22, and Tanya Barrass, 30, from Northumberland.

Audrey Kingham, Principal of TyneMet, said: “A college’s students’ union should be a force for good, and I believe this will very much be the case with that voted in to represent Tyne Coast College learners this year