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A Day of Peace at Kidderminster College

Colleagues at Kidderminster College came together on Saturday 21 September to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Peace with their MAS Lab World Peace Concert.


The international day of peace is a United Nations initiative, established in 1981 and observed globally on the 21st September. It is a shared day for all humanity to commit to peace above all difference and to celebrate building a culture of peace.”

– Kev Gammond, MAS Lab Curator


The event, which was free to attend, brought together artists, musicians, authors and speakers for a day of shared celebrations. The diverse range of traditional, local, distant and unique cultures showed what peace means and demonstrated how it can inspire and improve everyday lives and local communities.

The soundtrack to the day was provided by Kidderminster’s own Black Country Brass, who performed moving renditions of a collection of national anthems from around the globe. Human rights activists Todd Maforimbo and David Shuck delivered thought-provoking talks and renowned poet Keisha recited poems addressing the need to be at peace with ourselves so that we are able to be at peace with others.


This is probably one of the biggest recent news stories for Kidderminster College, drawing together many regional and international partners on an international event… it’s big stuff.

It is of the times we live in globally, it feels the college is making a statement of peace when there are many things that divide us – peace is so fragile and often taken for granted.

Throughout the day staff demonstrated their commitment & empathy towards humanity on a global scale and showed what it means to our learners.  Their passion and vigour for an international event is something I haven’t seen in education for a long time.”

– Palvinder Singh, Deputy Principal, Kidderminster College


MAS Records & MAS Lab

Kev Gammond founded MAS (Mighty Atom Smasher) Records, a non-profit music development programme based in Kidderminster, in 2001. The label has partnerships with local education authorities across the UK and has Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs), Robert Plant (ex-Led Zeppelin) and Karl Hyde (Underworld) as its patrons.

The initiative combines industry knowledge and experience with education to give our young people the very best learning experience and prepare them for the wider industry.

Kev launched his latest project, MAS Lab, last year with the purpose of bringing communities closer together through the promotion of social and political causes both locally and nationally.

You can find out more about MAS Records here as well as an hour-long livestream of the event, which includes an inspirational address of UK gangs and knife crime from Dr Ross Deuchar, on Kidderminster College’s Facebook page here.


What’s Next?

In 2020, Kidderminster College and MAS Lab will be joining forces with organisations across the UK to combat criminal gang-related activities.

Partnerships with The Ubuntu Roundtable Project will connect young people with local police authorities to open a discourse about issues in local areas, bringing communities together to reduce the risk of criminal activity.


Our thanks go to our colleagues at #TeamKC for organising an enlightening and inspiring event. We all look forward to hearing about the continued positive impact on our learners and the community.

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Monumental World Peace Day at Kidderminster College

Colleagues at Kidderminster College are coming together to hold the MAS Lab World Peace Day Concert on Saturday 21st September 2019. The free event, which starts at 12 noon, will feature artists, musicians, authors and speakers celebrating this year’s international day of peace.

“The international day of peace is a United Nations initiative, established in 1981 and observed globally on the 21st September. It is a shared day for all humanity to commit to peace above all difference and to celebrate building a culture of peace.”

– Kev Gammond, MAS Lab Curator

Musical guests include Black Country Brass, one of the Midland’s top brass bands, and JJ Vibez Music Group from the Kadoma School for the Blind in Zimbabwe.

Renowned poet Keisha will be introduced by Leslie Fairclough (InspireYou), one of the many inspirational speakers appearing during the afternoon, including human rights activist Todd Maforimbo and David Shuck, Midlands Peacekeeper, who will be speaking about his prominent role within the community.

In 2020, MAS Lab will be collaborating with organisations across the UK, focussed on combatting criminal gang-related activities. In anticipation of next year’s focus, MAS Lab will welcome special guests Blaire Kirk Adderley and Mark Murray from the prestigious Tutu Foundation and Youth Futures anti-knife crime and serious youth violence team, who will be sharing their experiences of the Round Table initiatives in London. Author and Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the West of Scotland, Dr Ross Deuchar, will also  be addressing UK Gangs and Knife Crime.

To keep up to speed on events throughout the day, follow us on Twitter at @NCG_Official and @KidderminstColl.



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Interview with NCG CEO Liz Bromley

NCG CEO Liz Bromley recently sat down with Elouise Leonard-Cross, Director of Learning & OD to talk all things learning at NCG.

Liz shares an insight into her background in education, her belief in putting the learner at the heart of everything we do and what she hopes to see happen within the FE sector.


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NCG Announces the Appointment of Liz Bromley as Chief Executive Officer

NCG is delighted to announce the appointment of Liz Bromley as our new Chief Executive Officer.


Taking up the post on Monday 19 August, Liz was previously Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire.


Liz will be supported in her role by Chris Payne as Deputy Chief Executive.  Chris has been serving as acting CEO since October.


Liz said: “I am truly delighted to be joining this ambitious group of colleges. Further Education has never been needed more or been better placed to answer the needs of our emerging workforce, and to offer opportunities to everyone who wants to learn.


“NCG represents everything that matters most in the education sector – offering relevant learning at all levels in our local communities, but also working across boundaries to ensure best practice in teaching and leadership development right across the sector.


“I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues and privileged to be leading NCG as we open up opportunities for learners right across the UK.”


Having worked in other senior roles in education – including at the University of Salford and Goldsmiths, University of London – Liz also has also been a board member of the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education, the CBI North West and a governor and trustee of the Sir John Brunner Foundation, among many other non-executive roles.


Chris Payne added ‘we are very excited about Liz joining the team here at NCG and can see the immediate value she will be able to add to our journey to make the group a great place to learn, teach and work’


Peter Lauener, NCG Chair of Governors, added: ‘Liz will bring huge drive and creativity as well as a successful track record in education leadership.


‘On top of that she brings an absolute commitment to developing the highest standards of education and training in all our colleges so that they can provide a beacon of opportunity for all our learners in the diverse communities we serve.’

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Six Ways Employers Can Use the Apprenticeship Levy to Their Advantage

Don’t let the word “levy” put you off apprenticeships. You can use them to benefit your business. That just 13 per cent of the Government’s apprenticeship budget was spent last year means that thousands of employers are missing out.


You might need new skills to grow your service offering or you might be worried about who’s going to replace your current managers as they retire. Apprenticeships can provide the solutions to these challenges.


Here are five ways employers can use the Apprenticeship Levy to their advantage:


  1. Use the Government’s co-investment rate if you’re not a levy-paying business. Here the Government will pay 95 per cent of the training and assessment costs.


  1. If you employ a 16 to 18-year-old, you will receive a £1,000 grant, and for businesses that employ fewer than 50 staff that take on a 16 to 18-year-old apprentice, the Government will fund 100 per cent of the training costs.


  1. Apprenticeship rules state that 20 per cent of an apprentice’s time should be spent on “off-the-job” training. Don’t let this put you off. This time doesn’t have to be spent off-site in a classroom. In fact it can cover a range of activities such as practical training, theory-based learning and special assignments.


  1. Consider the skills line managers and leaders may need to manage apprentices effectively. Skills such as coaching and mentoring are fundamental to making a successful apprenticeship, but other skills such as developing confidence and resilience in apprentices are important and will mean the difference between your apprentices adding substantial value to your business or being a burden on resources.


  1. You can use apprentices to spot and develop future leaders for your business. This also applies to existing staff, as remember the Apprenticeship Levy funds can be used for training people of all ages. For career starters you can expose them to different functions of your business to give them the broad understanding that leaders need, and for existing staff you can leadership qualifications.


  1. Use apprenticeships as a tool for workforce planning. You’ll need to consider what skills your apprentices will need as they progress – so setting milestones and timelines is important for levy payers.


To find out more about what the Apprenticeship Levy means for your businesses and how to take advantage of it, contact NCG’s specialist team on 0191 200 4800 and

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NCG Excellence Awards 2019 Recap

  • Director of Learning & OD, Elouise Leonard-Cross, served as compère for the evening

  • Our 12 awards were split into our 3 key areas of activity

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Award winner Farina Cahm with Denise Williamson, Principal at West Lancashire College

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Interim Chief Executive addressing our guests

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Award winner Amanda Robson with Andy Dobson, Principal at Kidderminster College

  • Our award winners!

  • Christina Maw, representing the award winning Work Experience Team, with Grant Glendinning, Principal at Carlisle College

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Magician Magic Graeme entertains our guests on arrival

  • Guests pose outside the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena

  • Elouise hosts a game of Rock, Paper, Mirror

  • ❤NCG letters provided by Love Light Hire

  • Every guest received an event programme at a star pin badge

  • Each of the 22 tables sat 8 guests

  • Award winner Marcia Winterburn with Asfa Sohail, Principal at Lewisham College

  • Newcastle College based musician Jordan Kendal added to a great atmosphere

The sun was shining as the third annual NCG Excellence Awards took place on Thursday 27th June 2019, with a record number in attendance to celebrate the success of our colleagues.

The Awards evening evolves year-on-year, growing into a bigger and better event to allow us to share the celebrations with more of our colleagues. This year, for the first time, the event was held off campus, at the new Eagles Community Arena in Newcastle – the home of British Basketball League team, The Newcastle Eagles.

This year also some changes to how we categorise our awards, linking them to our three key areas of activity; Great Place to Teach, Great Place to Work and Great Place to Learn.

“These areas are fundamental to our success and there has been amazing collaboration across the organisation this year in driving these forward and sharing practice. The Awards are just one way we can directly see the impact of this work.

– Elouise Leonard-Cross, Director of Learning & Organisational Development

The 2019 awards also debuted a new logo. Retaining the stars, which represent each of the colleges within NCG, and emphasising the 3 strands of NCG’s values; Valuing our People, Taking Ownership and Being Open and Honest.

The Awards event followed our Summer Teaching, Learning and Assessment conference: Reflecting on Excellence. The conference offered colleagues from each of our colleges to come together for a series of presentations and workshops that explored collaborative approaches and techniques to improve TLA at NCG. Once the conference closed, it was time to get ready for the big night.

Guests arriving back at the Arena for the awards were wowed by Graeme Shaw, an expert close-up magician, whose tricks with coins, fire and glass drew gasps and laughter in the foyer. The buoyant atmosphere was aided by the musical stylings of Newcastle College learner Jordan Kendal, as his acoustic covers filled the room and spilled into the main hall.

Once in the hall, which was the Eagles’ centre court, guests had the opportunity to have their photos taken at Platinum Events Newcastle’s Magic Mirror – using the props, including the brilliant balloon art of Buddy’s Balloons, to stage the most creative scene possible.

Chris Payne, Interim Chief Executive of NCG, formally opened the event, welcoming all of our guests, which included all of our category finalists and, for the first time, their nominators. Chris thanked the divisional judging panels, who received 388 nominations, for identifying the overall winners – sharing that the words of our colleagues in those nominations were a real cause of encouragement.

Chris gave the stage to Elouise Leonard-Cross, NCG’s Director of Learning & OD, who served as compère for the evening and introduced a free-for-all game of ‘Rock, Paper, Mirror’, an event-themed take on the classic game. Once we had our game winner and dinner was served, the lights were dimmed and our award winners were revealed:


Great Place to Learn: Information, Advice and Guidance

⭐ Farina Cahm, West Lancashire College

Farina always offers encouragement and helps learners to fulfil their career aspirations; she is continually seeking ways to improve and develop our service to the learners at West Lancashire College.


Great Place to Learn: Learner Support

⭐ Amanda Robson, Carlisle College

Amanda is truly inspirational and supports all of Carlisle College’s learners with a ‘can do’ attitude.


Great Place to Learn: Enriching the Learning Experience

⭐ Work Experience Team, Lewisham College and Southwark College

The team makes a difference to learners by providing them real life work experience and skills in their area of vocational education.

Christina Maw, represented the Work Experience Team in accepting the award.


Great Place to Learn: Unlocking Learner Potential

⭐ Marcia Winterburn, Carlisle College

Marcia deserves to be recognised for her ‘I will do everything I can to help these learners pass GCSE English’ attitude.



Great Place to Work: Internal Customer Experience

⭐ Lee Jennings, Group Services

The Human Resources Team at Group Services simply could not do our jobs without Lee’s knowledge, support, advice and guidance. Lee is an absolute credit to the team and NCG.

Hannah Marshall, Group Head of IT, accepted this award on Lee’s behalf.


Great Place to Work: Taking Ownership

⭐ Beth Tserkezie, Newcastle College

Beth takes ownership of every task asked of her, whether her responsibility or not, and she does so with her signature positivity, goodwill and determination to achieve a great outcome for all involved.


Great Place to Work: Valuing Our People

⭐ Jen Burlton, Newcastle Sixth Form College

Jen genuinely values the staff and students she works with – that level of genuineness is extremely rare


Great Place to Work: Being Open and Honest

⭐ Caroline Carey, Carlisle College

Caroline truly exemplifies the Open & Honest value and provides a shining example of working collaboratively in pulling together a short-course curriculum at Carlisle College, coordinating with managers across the organisation to successfully make it happen.

Andy Dodds, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Carlisle College, accepted this award on Caroline’s behalf.



Great Place to Teach: Apprenticeships

⭐ Louisa Ellis, Kidderminster College

Louisa is highly passionate about apprenticeships and has a strong belief in their ability to raise aspirations and goals for future generations.


Great Place to Teach: Higher Education Teacher of the Year

⭐ Jessica Hall, Kidderminster College

Jess always goes above and beyond to support colleagues in any way she can and is a great asset to the HE Dance department at Kidderminster College.


Great Place to Teach: Further Education Teacher of the Year (Technical)

⭐ Saskia Munden, Newcastle College

Saskia has a real passion for her subject and its success, commitment to her learners, and she cares about the whole learner journey at Newcastle College.


Great Place to Teach: Further Education Teacher of the Year (Academic)

⭐ Melissa Hudson, Newcastle Sixth Form College

Melissa is so friendly and genuinely cares about the achievement and wellbeing of all students and their individual progress. She motivates everyone and anyone she can to be not only better at their work but a better person.


Congratulations to all of our nominees, category finalists and award winners – a great time was had celebrating your successes.

Finally, we’d again like to thank our sponsors ISS, Ellisons, FE Associates, NCFE and Arco Safety for their support and allowing us to deliver the best possible experience for our attendees.

See you next year for the NCG Excellence Awards 2020!

#NCGExcellence #WeAreNCG

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Celebrating Neurodiversity at NCG

Any understanding of autism should not be approached from a position of ‘deficit’, but rather from apposition of ‘difference’. Autistic people are not neuro-typical people with something missing or something extra added on. They are different. If we are serious about equality and inclusion within any area, then we must first of all understand that difference.

– Christine Breakey (2006), The Autism Spectrum: A Guide to Good Practice


This month, organisations nationally have been recognising the importance of neurodiversity and championing diversity and inclusion. Below we take a look at how colleagues at Carlisle College induct new learners and introduce them to their course, how Newcastle College’s Autism Academy creates a safe space for learners with their Autism Base Room, how Newcastle Sixth Form College engage their leaners and colleagues in neurodiversity and how colleagues and learners recently came together at Lewisham College to celebrate their personal and academic achievements.


Carlisle College – Transitioning into College Life

For young learners, transitioning into college life can be daunting with a lot of new information to take in.  This transition tentatively begins in Year 9, when colleagues from Carlisle College’s Transition Team first become involved in the learner’s journey by attending Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) review meetings and discuss the possibility of the learner attending the college. By Year 10 and Year 11, there is a more active focus among colleagues on inviting the learners into the college for visits and tours, usually during academic holidays. Taster days and infills are also often arranged to give the learner and their family as much information as they need to make an informed decision on their next steps.

Recently the Transition Team were also inspired by a ‘quiet hour’ held by some of the local supermarkets for autistic shoppers who struggle with music and noise. The team at Carlisle organised a Quiet Advice and Guidance Evening, allowing young learners to meet colleagues and curriculum leaders in a classroom environment, rather than a hall or a refectory.  This change in location meant teaching colleagues had more time to talk to the young learners about the details of their course, while Learning Support and Student Ambassadors were also on hand to answer questions around support and college life. Learners that went on to register with the college were then offered a quiet enrolment session that avoided the long ques often seen at busy times and ensured a calm and friendly atmosphere was created.

Understanding the behaviours of an autistic learner is key for a teaching or support colleague, as it is this understanding of how students learn and interact with the world around them that can allow colleagues to tailor classroom activities to their individual needs.

To support our teaching and support colleagues, Carlisle College are currently running Autism Awareness Training.  The session offers an overview of autism and the various traits learners can present, explores lesson planning and student profiles for learners with autism and examines how the teaching colleague can differentiate tasks.

This training introduces colleagues to a range of techniques and strategies to support learners including the importance of keeping the student’s profile up to date as they develop and become more comfortable or confident and modifying assignment briefs to be more user friendly. These strategies go a long way in ensuring our learners have the tools they need to unlock their potential.


Newcastle College – The Autism Base Room

Colleagues at Newcastle College are proud of their Autism Base Room, a space for learners to strengthen their social, communication and independent living skills. In addition to being available for enrichment and fundraising events, trained and experienced colleagues supervise the room at all times, ensuring learners can drop-in during break times and free periods.

The Autism Team offer in-house training to give colleagues a better understanding of autism and the way it affects young people. The objectives are to:

  • Identify the four key areas of need when working with learners with autism.
  • Know of the importance of understanding the young person with autism, their profile of strengths and areas for development.
  • Identify the key areas to support young people with autism build relationships with their peers, staff and people in their community.
  • Develop an awareness of the sensory and communication differences that young people with autism may experience.

Central Support Service can also offer a wide range of services including:

  • Social groups, activities and skills training
  • Travel training support
  • Employability support
  • One-to-one study support outside of the classroom
  • The loan of assistive technology and/or specialist equipment
  • Support in exams and with Special Exam Consideration applications
  • One-to-one or group support in the classroom
  • One-to-one mentoring sessions
  • Help with applications for funding and finance

The Autism Team also offer additional support for potential learners through Easter and Summer programmes, ensuring learners have a smooth transition into college and onto their chosen course. These are an ideal way for potential learners to familiarise themselves with the college environment, meet staff from the Autism Team and also meet other learners who will be coming to study at the campus.


Newcastle Sixth Form College – Getting Quizzical

The Learning Support team at Newcastle Sixth Form College were fully involved in the new Autism Acceptance Campaign being run by North East Autism Society. As part of the Sixth Form’s celebration of the campaign and to keep awareness high, they conducted a week long quiz for all learners, with high levels of participation. The fun event meant that on each day, learners were given a fresh focus and reminders of the campaign.

As part of their ongoing commitment to learners, colleagues are placing a significant focus on targeted study sessions as they prepare for their A level exams. This targeted support is just one of the really positive actions, with measurable benefits for the learners being implemented. Learners are being encouraged to book in for 1:1 support sessions and personalised revision timetables are being developed for learners.


Lewisham College – Autism Awareness Fundraising Celebration

The supported learning offer at Lewisham College exists to support learners with ranging abilities however, they have a particular focus on learners with Autism.

Earlier this month, 150 colleagues and learners came together in aid of Autism Awareness, celebrating the achievements of learners on the autistic spectrum and the rich contribution they make to the life of the College and its student .

With quizzes, competitions, music and drama, homemade cakes and handmade cards, the event was designed to highlight the role that the college plays in supporting learners and families living with autism.

A significant concern for people on the autistic spectrum is being unable to access education or find the right support to find employment, with only 16% of autistic adults in the UK in full-time paid employment, 32% in any kind of paid work and one in three autistic children being excluded from school (National Autistic Society, 2016). Therefore, creating an inclusive environment is crucial for our learners and their development.

The events raised funds for the National Autistic Society, which supports people with autism in education, at work and in the community and preparations are underway to launch a supported learning programme at Southwark College in September 2019.


Sending special thanks to all of our colleagues working within the SEND provisions at NCG. The teams across NCG make a profound difference to our learners and ensure our colleges are safe, welcoming and enriching environments that support our purpose, to unlock potential through learning.

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International Women’s Day 2019 with NCG COO Karen Heaney

In aid of International Women’s Day 2019, we sat down with NCG’s first Chief Operating Officer, Karen Heaney, to get her thoughts on what the day means to her and the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her career.


Why is International Women’s Day Important to you?

I think it’s great to have a day of reflection where we can all appreciate how far we have come in terms of equality in the workplace and to champion those pioneers who made it possible – from the suffrage movement through to recent examples of trailblazing women.

It is so important to celebrate strong, positive females as role models for young women looking to develop as professionals and as people. “If she can do it then so can I” can be such a powerful motivation.


Who and what has inspired you as a professional?

To be honest, you normally expect to hear about those successful public figures but for me it was a leader early in my career who challenged me, helped me push for more and showed me how to be fearless.

My experiences with her encouraged me to make some career-defining decisions that have shaped my professional life. Above all, she taught me that it is acceptable to challenge. Challenge people’s ideas, challenge boundaries and challenge myself to go beyond where I thought I could be. To this day I think of her advice, “Think about what is going to happen if you don’t, but what could happen if you do”.


What pieces of advice would you give to your younger self?

The absolute worst thing you can do is to not have an opinion. If you truly believe in something then let it be known, it’s so much better to express your opinion than to feel like you can’t.

Be uncomfortable. It is good to be stretched and feel like you are out of your comfort zone. Do things outside of your remit if you know you can add value.

Grab opportunities and learn to realise what an opportunity looks like. It may appear small or out of the ordinary at first but taking opportunities can often have amazing outcomes.

Above all else, know your value and believe in yourself. I think women are their own worst critics and we give ourselves reasons not to do something. It’s all about confidence and self-belief. Take that leap of faith.


What motivates you to achieve more?

I’m a perfectionist who always thinks that we can improve the way we do things. Put simply, to have fun, work hard, play hard and enjoy everything we do with passion.


Thanks, Karen!

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NCG Announces Changes to Lewisham Southwark College

NCG has today announced that Lewisham Southwark College is to be rebranded as two separate Colleges; Lewisham College and Southwark College.

The rebrand comes into effect on 1st October 2018 and will see both colleges remain a part of NCG.

NCG Chief Executive Joe Docherty said, “This decision will allow the newly established colleges to develop curriculum programmes that better meet the needs of the communities they serve and to work more closely with key stakeholders, including crucially the local authorities of Lewisham and Southwark.

“Two new principals will be appointed to lead the colleges – both charged with the opportunity to make sure the offer better meets the respective local challenges while continuing to collaborate on areas where that makes sense.

“These are incredibly exciting opportunities and in making this move we will better meet NCG’s purpose, to unlock potential through learning.”

The move to create two new colleges has been well received by the local councils. Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said, “Further education opens up opportunities for so many Lewisham residents of all ages.

“This move will allow the newly-branded Lewisham College to tailor their curriculum to the needs of our borough and we welcome this.”

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, added: “This is welcome news for Southwark residents, who deserve a better and more focused further education offer than we have had in recent years.

“The council has worked with local schools to ensure Southwark children receive a first class education, and we expect the same standard from our further education colleges.

“We look forward to working with the new Southwark College to help our residents reach their potential and have every opportunity to succeed in life.”

It is anticipated that most colleagues will be unaffected by these changes. NCG will of course continue to consult and communicate openly and honestly with any changes that occur as a result of the redevelopment.

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