Reaseheath College alumni magazine - Revue

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Alumni Magazine Issue 2


IT IS MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOUR LATEST REVUE MAGAZINE THIS ISSUE FEATURES A HOST OF INSPIRING ALUMNI INCLUDING BRITAIN’S FIRST ICELANDIC SKYR PRODUCER SAM MOORHOUSE AND SUCCESSFUL CALF REARING ENTREPRENEURS, CHRIS WEBB AND LARRY ANSCOMBE We congratulate the latest graduating cohort of higher and further education students and apprentices, along with hearing how our most recent John Platt Travel Scholarship recipients have been utilising this fantastic opportunity. You will also find a lovely selection of memoirs, including Brian Moore’s tale of traditional agriculture from the 1940s. This academic year has already seen many exciting new developments at Reaseheath including the completion of our £8 million National Centre for Horticulture, the Environment and Sustainable Technology. This state-of-the-art teaching and commercial facility reflects all aspects of horticulture.

Our £1.5 million centre for students with learning difficulties and disabilities developed in partnership with Cheshire East was opened for business in November 2015. Also the Reaseheath Food Centre recently gained a globally recognised BRC Grade A certification for food safety from the British Retail Consortium for the third year running. Plans are well advanced for our next £30 million of capital investment in the college to support the continued growth in demand for studying at Reaseheath. New halls of residence for 300 students, a new agricultural engineering and technology teaching centre, an expansion to the higher education centre and a new sports science academy and sports facilities should be completed within the next three years. Richard Ratcliffe a leading and prominent local farmer has taken on the role of Chair of Governors, taking over from Emily Thrane. Richard will be well known to many farmers across the country as he farms from Cornwall to Scotland. He succeeds Emily Thrane who has done a fantastic job as a Governor for over 14 years and as the Chair for the past 4 years. Thankfully Emily is still on our Board. Alumni visiting Reaseheath always gives us great pleasure and I am very pleased when invited to meet with and talk to past students. It was fantastic to see the dairy herd management class of 1994–95 and former students from the 1996–99 cohort hold their reunion celebrations on campus during the last year. Alumni are always welcome back on campus, whether for further study or to simply visit. Our Alumni Officer would be happy to hear from you. As our valued alumni, our friends and colleagues around the world, you are our global ambassadors and advocates for Reaseheath College, and therefore able to play an invaluable role in strengthening our reputation and communicating our strengths. Thank you for your continued support and interest in Reaseheath. Best wishes Meredydd David OBE Reaseheath College Principal




I hope you enjoy the new look to your magazine, full of the latest alumni news, success stories and lovely memories kindly contributed by our ever growing alumni community. You’ll see on the front cover that we have a new logo, which now incorporates elements of the prestigious Cheshire coat of arms.

College News


Alumni News


Apprentices Recognised


Global Travel Inspires Young Farmers


Over the last year we have welcomed many alumni back to the college for reunions, college events and alumni tours. It has been my pleasure to support alumni in organising their class reunions, helping to reunite long lost friends and colleagues – we look forward to many more.

Graduation 2015


Careers in Focus


Alumni Stories


A Trip Down Memory Lane


A huge thank you to those who have contributed to this issue of Revue. Please keep sending in your news stories, recollections and any feedback on the magazine, it’s always a pleasure to hear from our alumni. Katie Burt Alumni Officer


Cover story:

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Keep in touch:


Email Call +44 (0) 1270 613 219 Twitter @RHC_Alumni Facebook reaseheathalumni

Editor: Katie Burt 3

COLLEGE NEWS Reaseheath’s drive for efficiency will benefit farm, students and farmers Lean management – the concept of increasing productivity and profit by improving efficiency and reducing waste – is behind a major investment into Reaseheath College’s commercial and teaching farm. Nearly £800,000 is being spent on cutting edge technical and training resources aimed at making the 883 acre farm more streamlined and efficient to cope with the decrease in commodity prices being experienced by all farmers. Investment in the farm is in addition to a £6 million project in advanced agricultural technology and engineering project in partnership with major agricultural companies such as Case IH, New Holland, CLAAS, JCB and A-Plant. Apart from increasing productivity and reducing costs, the farm investment will allow Reaseheath uniquely to introduce the teaching of lean management into its agricultural degrees and Level 3 Extended Diplomas from September.

Find out more at

Ofsted commends student success Reaseheath College remains one of the UK’s premier technical and specialist land-based colleges, Ofsted has confirmed. The results of an inspection held in November shows that Reaseheath continues to be good (Grade 2) with some exceptional features and continues to be outstanding in many areas – in particular the very high number of Further Education students achieving success and progressing into employment or further study. Describing the success rates of students, which sees over 96% moving into jobs or onto degree programmes in their chosen industry, as ‘a major strength of the college’, Ofsted Lead Inspector Derrick Spragg said his team had continued to be very impressed with the way Reaseheath responds to employers’ needs and ensures its courses are relevant to the world of work. Principal Meredydd David said:

This is a fantastic result that recognises the outstanding achievements of our staff and students and puts us in a very strong position for the future Read the full Ofsted report at

of students move into jobs or onto degree programmes

Lean management is behind a major investment into Reaseheath College’s commercial and teaching farm


Rising star Robert addresses the Oxford Farming Conference

Student Tom stars in groundbreaking TV series

Ambitious young farmer Robert Yardley addressed delegates and met Princess Anne at the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC).

Reaseheath countryside student Tom Dufton was one of the stars in a groundbreaking TV series about the unique abilities of people who have neuro-diverse conditions.

A current Reaseheath Foundation Degree in Agriculture undergraduate, Robert, took to the main stage of the prestigious conference to speak of his experiences with the Young DLG – the youth network of the German Agricultural Society.

The BBC2 documentary ‘Employable Me’ used science to uncover the strengths and skills of people who have Autism and Tourette’s Syndrome as they seek employment. The programme fits in context with radical emerging findings that neurological conditions shouldn’t always be looked at in negative terms.

Robert, 29, was one of three scholar delegates to be awarded an OFC travel scholarship to attend the Young DLG Conference at Agritechnica, Germany, last November. The exchange is part of a collaboration between the OFC and the Young DLG and aims to give young people involved in British and German agriculture networking and learning opportunities at leading agricultural events.

Tom, who is 28 and lives in Staffordshire, has Tourette’s Syndrome and featured in the second episode in the series. The programme followed Tom as he explored ways to harness his strengths and find a career that would utilise his talents, taking account of his condition.

Studying at Reaseheath part-time alongside his job as an arable operator, Robert gave a presentation at the Young DLG conference about farming in the UK and more specifically in Cheshire. Describing the experience as ‘a great opportunity which will help further my future career’, Robert told the OFC how he had been able to explore farming practices which met current challenges and had been impressed with the way some businesses were structured to make the most of the marketplace. Since attending the Young DLG conference, Robert is taking every opportunity to learn more about agriculture in other EU countries and is particularly interested in how businesses manage volatile markets.

The documentary initially saw Tom try teaching, but it was when he had the chance to do some work experience with Lichfield’s SW Tree Surgery that things really clicked. He loved the tree surgery work, and that’s what brought him to Reaseheath. He’s currently just about to complete the first year of his Level 3 in Forestry and Arboriculture with us and hopes to continue his studies at university once he’s completed his course next year. Since the documentary aired in March, Tom has been overwhelmed by the huge number of positive reactions and comments about featuring on the programme and is now writing a book about his experiences with Tourette’s.

Tom Dufton

More on the Oxford Farming Conference at

A great opportunity which will help further my future career


COLLEGE NEWS Brazilian students’ visit strengthens Reaseheath’s international links Six Brazilian students spent nine weeks with us as part of the Association of Colleges ‘Skills without Borders’ initiative. The six, who joined programmes in our countryside and food technology departments, are already studying those subjects at university or college and came to Reaseheath to develop their academic and practical skills. The students are from the Minas Gerais region near Rio de Janeiro and all enjoyed their first visit to Britain and being part of the Reaseheath community. Sarah Amorim, 18, and Julia Silva, 19, who are both studying a Level 3 technical course in environmental management in Brazil, joined our Level 3 Diploma countryside students. Undergraduates Nagela Ruphael, 20, and Alessandra Bina, 22, who are studying for environmental related degrees, joined our Foundation Degree in Countryside Conservation and Recreational Management while Samia Oliveira, 20, and Luan Marciano, 25, worked alongside the Eden cohort who are taking their Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology. All four are currently studying at the University IF Sudeste MG near Rio.

Welcome to the British Grassland Society The country’s leading forum in the science and practice of grass and forage production, The British Grassland Society (BGS), has relocated to offices at Reaseheath College. BGS was established in 1945 to serve as a communication forum, through events and publications, for the profitable and sustainable use of grass and forage. Membership is open to all with an interest in grassland agriculture, whether in the UK or overseas. The organisation’s move from Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, to Cheshire places it at the heart of a major grassland region and, by being located at a land-based college, brings it closer to some of the young people who will form the future of the farming industry. BGS Director Elaine Jewkes said:

It’s great to be at a vibrant place of learning such as Reaseheath. I’m looking forward to strengthening our links with the college, which is itself a high profile and respected centre for agricultural education BGS Director Elaine Jewkes

Samia said:

This has been a great opportunity to experience something new. We use the same principles in our practical sessions in Brazil, but here we’ve been able to spend more time ‘hands-on’ – learning to use the same equipment as you find in industry, which is fantastic The ‘Skills without Borders’ initiative is a pilot project aimed at providing Level 3 and Level 5 vocational students from Minas Gerais with the opportunity to develop new skills and to widen their understanding of global culture. We are one of three colleges in the country to have been selected to host students in this initial programme.

Countryside students Nagela Ruphael, Alessandra Bina, Sarah Amorim and Julia Silva


More on the BGS by visiting

Michelle Hand and Zoe Greenwood have both been awarded the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) internship to spend 3 months at Virginia Tech’s Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center. The MARE Center is a 420 acre equine research and education facility in Middleburg, Virginia. The programme, which focuses on optimising horse and environmental health, is designed to prepare students for careers in the equine industry, academia or veterinary science by applying classroom knowledge in a ‘real world’ context. It is the first time in the history of the internship that it has been awarded to two candidates, with judges feeling that both were equally worthy. Final year students Michelle and Zoe are following in the footsteps of first class equine science graduate Charlotte Woolley, who won the internship in 2014 during her final year with us. Charlotte is now studying for an MSc in Animal Biosciences, and will start a PhD in Clinical Veterinary Sciences in September, both at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh.

Over the past 29 years students and staff have raised over


Two Reaseheath equine science undergraduates have won prestigious internships in the USA.

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Equine undergraduates win USA internships

Reaseheath RAG Students and staff from across the college are pulling out all the fundraising stops for this year’s nominated charity, British Heart Foundation. Inspired by the 2015 record RAG (raising and giving) total of £20,380 donated to Macmillan Cancer Support, the college has set an impressive £25,000 for this year’s fundraising target. Reaseheath Student Association have already raised over £12,000 for British Heart Foundation through organising and supporting events on and off campus including 24 fundraising activities during RAG week alone. Events so far have ranged from a Moulin Rouge themed RAG Ball, dodgeball competitions, cake sales, a tractor pull and a challenging 10 mile hike along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland – and there’s plenty more to come.

Michelle said:

This will be an amazing opportunity for us to learn alongside acknowledged experts and to gain practical skills working with some fantastic horses. We’re both really excited about the trip! Looking forward to their internships: Michelle Hand and Zoe Greenwood

Share your RAGtastic recollections The spirit of RAG has a long history for students and staff at Reaseheath. With 2017 marking our 30th year of RAG fundraising, we are hoping to put together an exhibition of photos, memorabilia and memories to help tell the story of the history of RAG at Reaseheath. We’d love to find out more about your involvement in RAG and would be delighted to hear from anyone with a story to tell or pictures to share.

If you’d like to get involved and share your memories, please get in touch via email or telephone 01270 613 219




After completing his National Diploma in Agriculture at Reaseheath and spending time travelling Australia Sam knew he wanted to focus on the future of his family farm.

Hesper Farm Skyr is currently available to buy from a host of farm shops and delis across Yorkshire and plans are in place for further expansion later this year.

Sam, 23, of Hesper Farm at Bell Busk, initially launched the now award winning Hesper Farm Skyr at the 2015 Harrogate Fine Food Show.

Sam explains: “I started to read up on skyr when I was looking at ways we might be able to diversify. It really caught my attention because it’s massive across Scandinavia and Iceland, and has really taken off in America too. It’s a really interesting product with great health benefits and I realised no-one was making it here.“

Inspired by his research into the Icelandic cow and trips to Iceland to train in the art of making the naturally fatfree skyr, Sam recognised the potential of the product. After extensive market research to confirm the demand for skyr in the UK, he took the product to Reaseheath Food Centre for initial trials to achieve his perfect formula. Sam, whose family has farmed locally for generations, is proud to be the first farmer to launch skyr in Britain and the first to bring skyr to the market with British milk. The skyr is produced onsite using milk from the farm’s award winning Aireburn herd.

Sam realised he would need expert tuition to learn how to make skyr, so set off for Reykjavik and asked around delis until he was put in touch with dairy engineer Thorarinn Sveinsson, who works for the Icelandic Farmers Union. Thorarinn taught him the labour-intensive process behind making skyr and then visited Hesper Farm once their new purpose-built dairy was finished to make sure the skyr Sam was producing was perfect. Said Thorarinn: “I had been getting increasing numbers of phone calls from people interested in skyr but I was so impressed with Sam, I knew I wanted to work with him. He has taken the whole process so seriously and has paid attention to every last detail. In fact he is using a heritage culture which originally dates back to 874, meaning his skyr is genuine Icelandic skyr – the real thing made in the Yorkshire Dales!“ With business going from strength to strength, most recently Sam featured on James Martin’s Home Comforts where he demonstrated his approach to skyr production.

Thorarinn Sveinsson and Sam Moorhouse


The cow on our pots and logo epitomises what we are trying to do. It’s a drawing of a cow called Baby that I bought at auction a long time ago. I liked the look of her unusual markings. Her temperament means she always stands out from the crowd too. She does exactly as she pleases and there is no persuading her otherwise! She’s been with us all these years and really represents our aim in doing something different and making skyr – we don’t follow the herd

Skyr (pronounced skeer) is a staple in Iceland and dates back to around the ninth century. It is made by incubating skimmed milk with live active cultures. The water contained in the milk, ‘the whey’, is then strained away. Per pot, about four times as much milk as an equivalent pot of traditional plain yogurt is used meaning it’s incredibly thick and creamy. It also means that the skyr contains more protein and calcium than standard yogurt.

For more about Hesper Farm Skyr please visit



Matt Beesley (right) and Jonathan Gill celebrate at the WorldSkills finals in Sao Paulo 10

Matt, from Winsford, and fellow team member Jonathan Gill, from Northern Ireland, achieved Britain’s first ever medal in landscape gardening at the global, Olympics style final. The pair had to prove their skills and stamina in hard landscaping, plant knowledge and management by building a garden from scratch in four days under the gaze of 259,000 spectators. WorldSkills runs the competition bi-annually for students aged 23 and under to showcase the skills and value of young professionals in industries ranging from construction, engineering technology and transportation to IT, communications and social and personal services. The GB team recorded its best ever performance with 33 medals. Matt, 21, completed his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture at Reaseheath in 2012. He now runs his own successful business, Beesley’s Landscapes in Winsford, and employs two apprentices. He first competed in the British selection rounds for WorldSkills while a Reaseheath student and continued to train intensively as a potential squad member. The former Hartford High School pupil said:

Winning silver in the world finals has been the best experience of my life. The whole WorldSkills programme has been awesome. I have learned so much and gained such a lot of confidence. I’d particularly like to thank my hard landscape instructor at Reaseheath, Jason Hinks, and my parents for their support

Find out more about Matt’s business at

REASEHEATH AGRICULTURE GRADUATES LAUNCH CALF REARING BUSINESS Reaseheath agricultural graduates Chris Webb and Larry Anscombe have joined forces to form a thriving calf rearing business. Along with their friend Chris Roberts, the entrepreneurial pair launched their calf unit while they were first year degree students and continued to expand it alongside their studies. They have grown quickly from an initial intake of 30 calves to rearing 130 calves on a farm at Welsh Frankton, Shropshire, and, after just a year and a half, are taking over the tenancy on a second larger unit nearby. The core of the business is raising beef-cross calves on milk and concentrate. The animals are purchased from farms across Shropshire and Cheshire at two to three weeks of age for resale as weanlings at around three months. On the same system, dairy heifer calves are contract-reared for local dairy farmers. Already the business is attracting return custom, with the partners attributing their success to their niche specialism, to making the most of technology and to their high standards of welfare. The calves are machine-fed in groups of 25 to 30, with electronic identification collars to allow individual monitoring, ration-control and progressive weaning to minimise stress and post-weaning check. From arrival, calves have ad lib starter, straw and water, and are fed 1kg of CMR daily. This drives early growth during the period of maximum feed efficiency and also primes their metabolism for high starter intakes as they progress onto solid feed.

For further details on buying or selling calves, or for a chat about this start-up business, contact Chris Webb at

By combining traditional good stockmanship with feeder automation and technology for monitoring health and performance, their system is able to deliver healthy calves with excellent growth rates, despite a relatively low workload. Careful monitoring of live weight gain also allows changes and protocols to be continuously tuned, compared and assessed. Chris Webb came to Reaseheath as a mature student, having previously run technology companies following a maths degree at the University of Cambridge in the 1990s. He doesn’t have a farming background, so studying for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture with Dairy Herd Management helped him build the skills and knowledge to enable him to break into a new industry. Larry, who comes from a farming family, studied for his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture at Walford College, Shropshire, completing this as student of the year. He then progressed on to a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Reaseheath to enable him to aim higher in his chosen career. Chris Webb said:

Reaseheath provided a great learning experience which included a comprehensive, well-taught course which was directly relevant to real-life farming. The specialist dairy side of the course is unique in the UK as it’s condensed into studying for two days a week, enabling many of us to hold down farming jobs at the same time. It was our course manager, Dr Jane Richardson, who inspired and encouraged us to pursue our start-up business 11

PETER’S WARTIME RECOLLECTIONS FELLOW REASEHEATH ALUMNI AND LONG-STANDING FRIENDS BRIAN MOORE AND PETER PLANT SHARE THEIR MEMORIES OF LIFE AT THE CHESHIRE SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURE IN THE 1930S AND 40S Originally from West Kirby, Peter, 94, came to the Cheshire School of Agriculture as a ‘practical student’ in 1938. With no prior farming background aged 17, he spent a year at the school learning the basics of farming before studies were interrupted in September 1939 by the outbreak of the Second World War. ‘General teaching’ was suspended to accommodate for the training of new recruits to the Women’s Land Army (WLA). Peter recalled how trainee ‘Land Girls’ came to Reaseheath in cohorts of around 20 at a time to complete a one month practical course in ‘general farming’ (including arable farming, marketing gardening and dairy work) to prepare them for work on farms across the UK, in aid of the war effort. For a short time during the war Peter left Reaseheath to continue his studies at the Midland School of Agriculture before returning to Reaseheath in 1941, this time as a farm employee.

Members of the Women’s Land Army training at Reaseheath

Said Peter:

I have fond memories of the farm, I did all tractor work, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also had the task of driving the milk lorry, transporting the milk produced each morning to Worleston train station ready for delivery to Birkenhead, and also to Nantwich station, for distribution across The Potteries. I lodged with a man called Tom Bailey and his wife; he lived in a cottage in the village in my day. Years later I went on to meet Brian Moore who has become a great friend of mine. Similar to me he studied and worked at Reaseheath, but about ten years after I was there. Funnily enough, he also lodged with the same family! Peter was one of around 20 members of staff working at the Cheshire School of Agriculture in the 1940s. It was during this time that Reaseheath became well known as one of the major training centres for the Women’s Land Army, and by 1943 over 1,000 ‘Land Girls’ had successfully completed their courses here.

We’re on the search for Reaseheath memories and artefacts.

Peter Plant joined by friend and fellow former Reaseheath student Brian Moore


Email Katie Burt at if you have material to contribute to our growing archives

TRADITIONAL AGRICULTURE, MEMORIES OF A STUDENT The residents of Room 6 1948–49 (left to right) Geoff Ralphs, Tom Gorton, John Blackstone, Brian Moore and Jim Watson

“ Before arriving at the Cheshire School of Agriculture as a student in 1948, I had experienced various aspects of farming as a young boy, having been brought up in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. I spent many school holidays on a cousin’s mixed farm in North Wales, helping with harvesting, potato picking and hand-milking. It was there that I first drove a ‘wartime’ Fordson tractor (on iron wheels*). At 18 years of age my first memory of Reaseheath was going there with my father to secure my ‘place’ on the 1948-49 course in General Agriculture. We travelled from Chester on the Crosville bus (local bus company serving Cheshire and North Wales) where we had to alight at Nantwich aqueduct, walk along Welshman’s Lane and on across the Chester Road before finally reaching the entrance of Reaseheath, by the then women’s hostel. As we approached, corn cutting was in progress in the front field and I remember remarking to dad, “Oh look, they have a binder pulled by an orange pre-war standard Fordson” – I felt at home immediately! I started as a student in 1948, accompanied by approximately 30 other male students (including one or two on poultry or horticulture courses) and around 15 female students. I recall a herd of large white breeding sows, which farrowed outdoors and a large number of store pigs. In those days pigs were fed on whey from the cheesemaking and swill collected daily from local hospitals etc…This had to, by law be boiled before use. The milking herd at Hall Farm consisted of 60 pedigree Ayrshires housed in two shippons, milked into bucket units. Accompanying them were four work horses carrying out many duties in conjunction with the two tractors on site, a 1938 orange standard Fordson and a red Massey Harris 101 Rowcrop, which probably arrived from the USA on lease-lend during the Second World War.

During my second year as a student (1949) a Ferguson T20, known as the ‘the grey fergie’ appeared, complete with much of the Ferguson toolbar equipment. Most of my lecturers took place in the buildings around the quadrangle, which had originally been a stable yard. On the social side of things, we weren’t allowed to leave the premises on weekdays and there was a 10pm curfew on a Saturday night. That being said, there were plenty of social events at Reaseheath, quizzes, table tennis and of course the dances. Students organised weekly dances in the grand Reaseheath Hall, where music streamed from a windup gramophone, playing ‘78s’. We all had the occasional excursion by coach (e.g. Boots Experimental farms at Nottingham, plant breeding stations, creameries of famous pedigree herds and the like). After my student days, I stayed at Reaseheath for two more years working with the pedigree Ayrshire herd as assistant herdsman and demonstrator, before joining the Ministry of Agriculture as a land drainage and farm water supplies officer. It also was during my time as a Reaseheath student that I met my wife, Maureen, who worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Berkley Towers, Crewe. We met during a joint trip to Trentham Gardens in 1948. We have been married for 65 years, so that was an added ‘bonus’ of becoming a Cheshire School of Agriculture student. Since my time as a student Reaseheath has grown beyond recognition, which is fantastic to see. I’m proud to have been a part of its history and will treasure my memories of traditional farming in the 1940s.“ Brian Moore Agriculture student 1948–49

I’m proud to be part of Reaseheath’s history and will treasure my memories

Share your own recollections of Reaseheath life at * During World War Two, due to the shortage of rubber – all tractors were produced with iron wheels.


REASEHEATH’S APPRENTICE STARS RECOGNISED A TRAINEE GROUNDSMAN AT ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S TOP GOLF COURSES AND A TRAINEE FOOD DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGIST WHO HELPS TO BRING NEW READY MEALS TO THE SUPERMARKET SHELF TOOK THE TOP TITLES AT REASEHEATH COLLEGE’S APPRENTICESHIP AWARDS Award winning construction apprentices Adam Platt and Ewan Collins joined by best parts sales and marketing apprentice Mary Wallbank, best agriculture apprentice Jordan Brandrick and best food apprentice William Hill

Apprentice of the Year Peter Lewis, from Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Peter Lewis, an apprentice groundsman at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, was crowned ‘Level 2 Apprentice of the Year’ while James Tickner, a development apprentice with Bakkavor Hitchen Foods, Wigan, was awarded ‘Advanced Apprentice of the Year’. The awards evening marked the achievements of 150 apprentices who had gained their qualifications in the past year. Addressing a packed audience of employers and families, Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David emphasised that apprenticeships were recognised by the government as the preferred training route for employers and that demands for places from young people were currently at an all-time high. Royal Liverpool Links Manager Craig Gilholm, who is mentoring award winning Peter through his training programme, said: “Apprenticeships work well for us. They attract committed young people who are keen to learn ‘on the job’ and who quickly become key members of our team.

Advanced Apprentice of the Year James Tickner of Hitchen Foods

Peter has shown real passion for the job and really wants to learn and get involved. He is exactly the sort of young person we like to attract into the industry, and he has a great future ahead of him

Benefit from an apprenticeship If you are a business owner looking to up-skill or expand your workforce – training an apprentice could be for you. With an average apprenticeship programme reporting to increase business productivity by £214 per week, it’s certainly worth considering. Find out more at


GLOBAL TRAVEL INSPIRES AMBITIOUS YOUNG FARMERS Former Reaseheath agriculture students Neil Roberts and Neil Quinlan were presented with their £2,000 John Platt Travel Scholarships during last year’s Royal Cheshire County Show.


Neil Roberts, a 31 year-old dairy farmer and herd manager for Townhouse Holsteins at Park Hall Farm, Clotton near Tarporley, used his scholarship to learn about progressive cow housing systems on a ‘CowSignals’ course in Holland and at Alta University ‘AltaU’ Dairy Manager School in Wisconsin, USA. Neil Quinlan, 36, who helps to manage the dairy herd and youngstock at Polar Hall, Tattenhall, for Neil and Nigel Matthews, visited large and small scale dairy farms in the USA to identify successful strategies in heifer rearing. He also attended a number of calf rearing conferences and heifer rearing units in the UK so he could compare techniques. Since completing their studies at Reaseheath Neil Roberts and Neil Quinlan have continued to expand their knowledge while progressing into responsible roles within the dairy industry.

The Scholarship is awarded annually and is open to young people from a rural background who live or work in Cheshire. Applications are being taken for next year. Find out more and apply at or email

Neil Quinlan and Neil Roberts receive their John Platt Travel Scholarships from Keith Thomas and Reaseheath’s Chair of Governors and selection committee member Richard Ratcliffe

I believe we in the UK could do a great deal more to maximise efficiencies and income within the youngstock industry. The scholarship gave me an invaluable chance to further broaden my knowledge of the sector, which I’m keen to share with other farmers. I would like to thank Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society for giving me this opportunity, the experience surpassed all my expectations and I’ve met some fantastic people Neil Roberts has been herd manager at Park Hall Farm for 11 years and helps to run the herd of 500 pedigree Holsteins on a high yield system milking three times daily. The business also has 450 heifer replacements on the farm. The CowSignals course he attended was set up by Joep Dreissen an influential Dutch vet, and focused on farm set up, building design and other factors which can improve welfare and profit. Having completed the intensive week long course, Neil is now a certified ‘CowSignals’ master trainer.

The John Platt Travel Scholarship is in memory of John Platt, a former Chair of Reaseheath Governors and former Chairman, President and Honorary Life Warden of the Cheshire Agricultural Society.

CowSignals website:



Dame Sarah Storey DBE congratulates National Skills Academy award winning dairy technologist Melanie Leloup

Hats off to our 2015 graduates!

Our most recent Faculty of Higher Education Graduation Ceremony, held in St Mary’s Church, Nantwich, celebrated the success of 116 graduates who had successfully completed degrees validated by Harper Adams University. Over 20% achieved first class honours or a distinction, and three graduates were singled out for special recognition. They were Hannah Dickson (Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research in Equine Science), Emily Westwood (Academic Excellence Award in Equine Science) and Anife Turchin (Academic Excellence Award in Horticultural Science). We hope that graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lifelong connection between our alumni and the college and we are keen for you to keep in touch. Find out more by visiting


achieved first class honours or a distinction

Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research in Equine Science award winner Hannah Dickson


Countryside Management graduates with senior lecturer and fellow former student Dr Leigh Crawley

Rural Events Management graduates Patrick Lye and Meagan Stokes

Prinicpal Meredydd David congratulates our graduates

Horticulture graduates with department head Sarah Hopkinson and lecturer Craig Bailey

Adventure Sports Management graduates celebrate with their course manager Simon Nortcliffe

Guest speaker Dame Sarah Storey praises graduates Smiles all round for agriculture graduates Daniel Henderson, Rhian Davies, William Jay and Owen Davies



After receiving a formal request for assistance from the Mayor of San Jose, a coastal town in Northern Samar, a DART team of Jono, Team Leader Gary Bailey, Team Medic James Enticknap-Green and Graham Beer left for the Philippines on New Year’s Eve. They spent two weeks on the stricken island clearing typhoon debris to allow safe access for other relief teams and treating damaged and high risk trees. Jono assesses Reaseheath apprentices and teaches on our Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture course, alongside running his own business The Good Tree Company. He is also a DART trustee.

Jono and fellow members of DART International UK (Disaster Arborist Response Team) were part of a global relief effort in Northern Samar, which was hit by Typhoon Melor in December.

DART’s disaster relief work is supported by our students, alumni and staff, who raise funds for the charity. The most recent fundraising feat saw Reaseheath trained arborist, Twm-Tegid Brunton, a member of the North West Welsh Opera Choir, sing Christmas carols from the top of a 100 foot high redwood tree on campus. Twm is well on his way to raising £1,000 for DART. You can still donate at

The typhoon made its landfall on the largely rural and impoverished region before going on to strike several other islands across the Central Philippines.


CELEBRATION TIME FOR FURTHER EDUCATION STUDENTS It was celebrations all round when 1,371 Further Education students achieved their industry recognised course qualifications at our annual awards ceremonies.


Our latest cohort of students, from across the UK and abroad, are preparing for careers in land-based and related industries such as agriculture, animal or equine management, agricultural engineering, motor vehicle technology, business, environmental conservation, fish management, forestry, food manufacture, floristry, horticulture, construction, public services or in leisure industries such as sport and outdoor adventure. Sharing congratulations with a capacity audience Principal Meredydd David emphasised that the land-based and associated industries were a hugely important industrial sector, contributing nearly £100 billion a year to the economy and employing nearly four million people – fantastic news for our students!

Equine science graduate Emily Westwood is set on a highly specialised career in veterinary medicine now she’s graduated from Reaseheath. Emily, 28, will be joining the prestigious Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh this September after recently gaining her place. Award winning plasterers Reg Collins, Curtis Lloyd and Mark Jones Shortly after graduating with first class honours, Emily had the opportunity to complete a work placement with the Nantwich Veterinary Group Equine Centre and it was there she found her passion for veterinary medicine. Impressing the team at the Nantwich, equine centre, on completing her placement, Emily’s now their Yard Manager and part time nurse. Emily used her business innovation and creative skills to set up a blog and own business to help raise the necessary funds to pursue her dream career as a vet. Emily has now successfully fundraised her entire £150,000 worth of course fees ready to start her studies and credits the invaluable support of the Nantwich Veterinary Group Equine Centre’s industry links and contacts to this impressive accomplishment.

Read more about Emily’s journey via her blog

Level 3 Sports Student of the Year, James Earl

Level 3 Food Technology with Management’s Most Outstanding Student of the Year, Louise Jackson

David Glover Adventure Sport Best Student of the Year

See the full roll of honour and photos from the awards ceremonies at



THIS WAS THE KEY ADVICE GIVEN TO REASEHEATH COLLEGE STUDENTS AT A ‘QUESTION TIME’ DISCUSSION LOOKING AT CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION The event, sponsored by the Food, Drink and Agricultural Group of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and organised by Reaseheath’s Agricultural Development Academy (RADA) and agricultural department, highlighted the opportunities available in the industry including business start-ups, and the attributes employers are looking for when recruiting. The panel included top industry representatives from Genus plc, Promar International, AB Vista, Cheshire Women in Dairy and our very own alumnus and NFU County Chairman, Ray Brown. They all took part in a lively Q and A session with undergraduates and Level 3 Agriculture students covering a range of topics. A recurring theme, discussed by all panel members, was that technology is vital for the future of the industry and that careers should be geared towards this constantly evolving science. The event proved an excellent opportunity for students to make direct links with industry professionals and pick up tips on how to approach their next career steps.

Former agriculture student Ray Brown advised:

The future of farming is in the hands of the next generation – and we need our young people to continue learning and then sharing their knowledge, best practice and experiences. You should go for what you enjoy in your career... but you need to strive to be the best to survive

Get involved to give students a career boost There’s plenty of ways that alumni can help our current students gain the skills they need to go into their careers of choice. Perhaps you’d like to lead a CV workshop, deliver a career talk, offer an internship, work placement or write us a career profile – there’s so many ways that you can make a difference.

Find out more about ways to get involved by visiting


TALENTED REASEHEATH TRAINED FLORIST ANNA EITE IS PUTTING HER ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS INTO ACTION AS HER NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPS After completing her Level 3 Diploma in Floristry at Reaseheath in 2014, Anna went straight on to launch her own home-based business, Anna Flora. Offering a range of services including bespoke floral packages, wedding flowers, workshops, masterclasses and her specialist ‘floral experience’, business is continuing to flourish. Having recently partnered with Red Letter Days, Anna Flora now also offers a masterclass package that includes an accompanying champagne afternoon tea service. Anna, 21, prides herself in using only the freshest, best quality, seasonal flowers designed and tailored to her clients’ needs. With a strong interest in specific flower varieties, colours and detailed work, Anna is currently developing her business to specialise in weddings.


During her time at Reaseheath Anna was crowned most talented floristry student in Britain after winning gold at the WorldSkills UK national finals in 2014. Anna, who lives in Acton, Nantwich, took the top title in the advanced section against strong competition from the best students from colleges and training providers nationwide. The taxing competition was held over three days in front of thousands of visitors at The Skills Show in Birmingham, the country’s biggest showcase of vocational skills and careers. Tasks included designing a floral hat, belt and chair, making up a planted container and taking part in a team project. Supported and trained for the competition by programme leader for floristry Sue Poole. Said Sue: “This was a fantastic result and we are all so proud of Anna. She was a wonderful representative for Reaseheath and for the floristry department.” Anna was also member of the 2014 student team who won Reaseheath the title of RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year, which enabled the team to compete at RHS Chelsea seeing them win a silver medal. Said Anna:

Find out more about Anna Flora at

Competing in front of so many people was a great experience. It was good to see how well I could work under pressure and how hard I could push myself, fantastic preparation for starting up my own business 21


Owen Davies

Katie Adams

FdSc Agriculture, 2015

BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation and Ecology, 2015

Ambitious young farmer Owen Davies started his career in Australia after completing his Foundation Degree at Reaseheath.

Wildlife conservation and ecology graduate Katie Adams is set on a highly specialised career helping to conserve endangered species.

This international job opportunity came about for Owen whilst he was still a student after impressing our then farm manager Mark Yearsley. Mark, who has since moved to a senior dairy operations management post in Australia, approached Owen when looking for an ambitious dairy herd manager – and he jumped at the chance!

Widely travelled and with experience of working in animal rehabilitation in South Africa and in the UK, she feels that achieving her Reaseheath degree has very much helped to crystallize her career options.

Owen, 24, is now working at an impressive 10,000 acre dairy farm two hours’ drive north of Melbourne which currently has 2,000 high yielding cows but plans to expand to 4,000 cows in the not too distant future. He is spending his first year learning all the aspects of the business, including the care and commercial output of the dairy herd, the breeding and production of youngstock. Coming to college with no previous farming background, Owen initially completed his Level 3 Diploma in Agriculture with us, which included a full middle year work placement at a dairy unit. He then progressed on to his Foundation Degree in Agriculture, excelling in all areas, Owen achieved an overall distinction. He says:

I wouldn’t have got this amazing opportunity without being an agriculture student at Reaseheath. Coming to college has been the major factor in getting me to where I am now and where I’m likely to be in the future 22

Hoping to specialise in the conservation of big cats and habitats, Katie, 28, returned to South Africa on a six month training scheme with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) to gain her Level 1 Field Guide Licence. After her initial training Katie will go on to complete a six month work placement and then plans to combine working as a field guide with conservation research, hoping to concentrate on the Limpopo region of South Africa. Katie prepared for her degree by completing an Access to HE course in biological sciences in her home town of Hull. She proceeded to combine studying for her degree with a job as a supermarket deputy manager. She says:

I always knew I wanted to work with endangered animals, however in such a competitive industry it can be hard to know how to pursue your dream. With the support of lecturers at Reaseheath, I’ve gained the personal confidence and professional encouragement to develop skills I’ll need for many years to come

Read more inspiring alumni stories at

Conor Forshaw

Hannah Dickson

FdSc Adventure Sports Management, 2013

BSc (Hons) Equine Science, 2015

Mountain biking enthusiast Conor Forshaw started his career in the outdoor sector at Plas Dol y Moch Outdoor Education Centre after graduating from Reaseheath.

Business minded graduate Hannah Dickson is using her equine science degree to develop her own mobile faecal egg counting business, EquineErudition.

Initially joining the organisation on a trainee scheme, he then spent a year as a centre assistant. Making such a great impression he’s now a permanent member of their activity instructor team.

After completing a first class dissertation, Hannah, 22, was keen to put her research skills into industry practice. Choosing a faecal egg counting project for her undergraduate dissertation topic, Hannah found she thoroughly enjoyed the whole research process.

Conor, 24, graduated from his Foundation Degree in Adventure Sports Management in 2013 having previously completed his Level 3 Certificate in Sports with us. Preparing for industry during his degree Conor spent a month working at Arthog, a North Wales outdoor centre, where he had the opportunity to assist instructors with all outdoor activities. This was a great opportunity to put the theory learnt in the classroom into practice, giving him the skills and experience to excel in his current role. Working as an instructor Conor devises and delivers adventure activity sessions for primary and secondary school groups from across Coventry. Pupils have the chance to have a go at a range of outdoor pursuits from kayaking and canoeing to rock climbing and mountain biking. The groups come to Plas Dol y Moch on residential trips with the aim of developing teamwork skills, environmental awareness and supporting their general social development. Said Conor:

The management knowledge and practical experience I gained during my degree gave me the confidence to forge ahead in my career

With a blend of entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for parasitology, Hannah launched EquineErudition in 2015. Her mobile business sees Hannah conduct on yard faecal egg counts on horses across Cheshire, North Wales and the Wirral. This process helps diagnose worm burden and advises clients on how to keep their horses healthy. Hannah combines running her business with a part time job at a bridal shop. Commended for her first class research skills whilst a student, Hannah was awarded the Reaseheath Dean of Higher Education’s ‘Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research’ accolade at our 2015 graduation ceremony. Said Hannah:

I loved every minute of studying at Reaseheath, it truly fuelled my passion for the equine industry. Research opportunities were invaluable and the chance to work on a ranch in Southern Spain were just a few of the highlights of college life 23

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE… 20 years on for the class of 1996 –99 Members of the class of 1996-99 reunited at Reaseheath to celebrate their 20th anniversary year of starting college. Twenty-six former students met on campus in February to catch up on old times and see what’s changed since they were students. The reunion was coordinated by 1996–99 agricultural mechanics alumnus Adrian Dunn and saw students from a range of subject areas including agriculture, animal management, engineering, equine and floristry attend the event. One group of former engineering students made the journey all the way from Ireland especially for the weekend! The group went on a guided tour of the campus, visited old haunts and many new facilities around the college, which was followed by a proper catch up over a buffet and a brew in the historic Reaseheath Hall.

Alumni Tina and Bob Sillitoe, Simon Thomas, with Gwyneth and Mark Jones catch up on old times at Reaseheath Family Festival

Catching up at Reaseheath Family Festival Brian Pringle was thrilled to revisit Reaseheath during last year’s Family Festival. A residential student in 1948, Brian visited the alumni stand and shared a few stories of student life and his career in the food and farming sectors. After completing his studies in 1949 Brian spent time farming and then progressed to a managerial position at Batchelors Foods before becoming Managing Director (MD) of Pioneer Holstein Breeders Group and subsequently MD of The Green Acres Farming Co. Said Brian:

Reaseheath played a very important part in my life and it gives me great pleasure in reading all the various publications that so vividly illustrate the present achievements of students today

They all had such a great time that plans are already in the pipeline for their next meet up!

Brian Pringle doing a job he loved – getting ready to inspect young stock, being promoted by the company, Green Acres, October 1989

Members of Reaseheath 20th anniversary reunion group outside Reaseheath Old Hall


Read Brian’s full story and more memories of student life at Reaseheath at


Dairy Herd Management group Skype calling Australia

Coming from Ireland, Cheshire and beyond, thirteen classmates enjoyed a Reaseheath reunion afternoon full of reminiscing and exploring the farm, thanks to an extra special guided tour from Tim. With the DHM cohort living all over the world nowadays, a few friends weren’t able to make it back on campus for their reunion back in October 2015. However, thanks to the wonders of Skype the group were reconnected with another former classmate who’s now farming out in Australia!

If you would like some help organising your own reunion or would be interested in being involved in reunion tours or events at the college, please get in touch via email or telephone 01270 613 219

Flashback to Reaseheath Summer Ball 1995! Dairy Herd Management class of 1994–95 joined by their former lecturer Tim Reeves



Matt, 26, joined Reaseheath from school and progressed to a Level 3 Diploma in Plant Production, which he completed in 2005. He now runs The Tiny Plant Company based in Weaverham, Northwich with fiancée Susi Boxall and two other business partners. The couple specialise in growing the smallest variety of as many species of plants as they can, from dwarf Agapanthus to dwarf Hostas. Their obsession with small plants stems from Matt’s hobby of growing Bonsai. He’s shown with the gold medal winning Cheshire Bonsai Society (of which he is membership secretary) at RHS Tatton Flower Show for the last 7 years. Said Matt:


Matt Wood and Susi Boxall celebrate Matt’s regional Young Horticulturalist of the Year accolade

It’s a growing business because gardens are getting smaller and people don’t have the space or the time to maintain large gardens. It’s also exciting to see how container and ‘fairy gardens’ have seen a surge in popularity in recent years This year Matt and Susi started their first ever full show season with a stand at the Arley Hall Spring Fair and are also aiming for the RHS Malvern Autumn Festival. They have their sights set on RHS Chatsworth when it begins in 2017 and will then look beyond to RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020. Aside from running The Tiny Plant Company Matt builds show displays for Bowden Hostas and will build their stand for this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. He’ll also be one of the team leading the build of the company’s stand for RHS Chelsea – a Pullman’s train carriage – the biggest ever stand on a showground.

The Tiny Plant Company won a gold medal and also ‘Best Blooming Bed 2015’ at RHS Tatton Flower Show 2015 with a display designed by Sally Parkinson

Find out more about The Tiny Plant Company at


CLASSMATE SEARCH Agriculture alumnus Jim Smith is keen to contact his former classmate Mike Thompson, resident student of Reaseheath Agricultural NCA (National Certificate in Agriculture) course 1962–63. Jim recalls that after leaving Reaseheath Mike went to work for the Ministry of Agriculture in the Crewe area. Jim would be pleased to catch up with Mike if he would like.

Can you help? NCA class of 1962–63

Former food technology alumnus Graham Keating is looking to get back in touch with Paul Renwick, fellow student from the 1977–78 cohort. If you think you can help alumni with their searches, please contact the alumni office on or telephone 01270 613 219

Did YOU study horticulture at Reaseheath? The Horticultural Enthusiasts’ Association (THEA) welcomes anyone who has completed at least one year of study in the Horticulture Department. THEA is independent, non-profit making and open to former Reaseheath horticulture students who are keen to share their interest and continue to improve their knowledge. Two days of lectures at Reaseheath, visits to gardens and nurseries, plant sales and three interesting newsletters are included in the annual programme.

For more information and an application form, please contact Freyda Taylor (Membership Secretary) on 01829 733 870 or email

YOUR ALUMNI BENEFITS All registered members of our alumni community are entitled to access a number of exclusive benefits, services and discounts as a thank you for staying in touch with the college. We are always looking to forge new links with our alumni business owners and other organisations to keep adding to our range of alumni benefits. If you would like to be involved in our alumni benefits scheme and feature on our website please get in touch on or call 01270 613 219 – it would be great to hear from you!

There’s huge savings on shopping, leisure, days, stationery, homeware and more!

Claim your benefits at


ALUMNI RELATIONS Reaseheath College Nantwich Cheshire CW5 6DF Telephone +44 (0) 1270 613 219

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