More than 320 Writtle College students have graduated following three ceremonies at Chelmsford Cathedral over the last two days.
Nearly 240 students were given BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) degrees, which are accredited by the University of Essex, with nearly 30 gaining First Class Honours. Masters and Doctorates were also presented.
Two people who have worked tirelessly for disabled people through the charities they have co-founded were given Honorary Degrees. David Constantine MBE, co-founder of mobility charity Motivation, and Anne Mitchell MBE, co-founder of Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled, were presented with Honorary Doctorate Degrees of the University of Essex.
College patron and celebrity horticulturist Alan Titchmarsh MBE again presented the awards at the two ceremonies on Thursday – his fourteenth year of doing so - alongside Professor Todd Landman, Executive Dean (Social Sciences) at the University of Essex.
Alan – who is this year celebrating 50 years in professional horticulture - gave his 30 golden rules for life including wearing deodorant every day, smiling regularly and getting at least six hours of sleep every night. The rules also included: don’t sleep with the boss - or boss’s wife or husband; don’t be afraid of falling in love (unless it is the boss, boss’s wife or husband); and the advice ‘if you’re bored, move on as no amount of money, prestige and security will ever overcome boredom’. But, finally, he said to ignore all advice from people who say there are 30 golden rules for life!
Alan, who became Writtle College patron in 2001, finished his address at Thursday’s ceremonies by saying: “Just make sure you’re alert enough to spot an opportunity from an unexpected direction and brave enough to take it. Just have a go. Do not waste time being envious, jealous or plotting to undermine others. There lies only desperation and despair.”
Chelmsford-based Alex Dowsett, the British professional road racing cyclist, presented the awards at the ceremony on Friday alongside Dr Dominic Micklewright, Dean of Academic Partnerships at the University of Essex.
Alex was diagnosed with haemophilia at the age of 18 months, which affects the way the blood clots. He recounted how he tried a number of non-contact sports to try to find something that he was good at and could take part in safely. At the age of 11 he discovered cycling and is now a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Consequently, he said: “Just give everything a go – you might find something that you hadn’t even thought of actually gives you satisfaction – and apply yourself.”
Undergraduate and postgraduate students from courses in Agriculture, Conservation, Floristry, Horticulture and Management were presented with their awards in the first ceremony on Thursday and Writtle School of Design – including Landscape Architecture & Garden Design, Art & Design and Interior Architecture & Design courses - in the second. On Friday, students from Animal Science, Sport and Equine courses were honoured.
This year, Dr Anya Perera was given a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her work to enhance the quality of the student experience, giving undergraduates and postgraduates the support they need to excel academically, professionally and personally.
The Duchess of Kent Academic Award was presented to FE Horticulture Lecturer Ben Wincott for his work to secure recognition for the College at the highest level at flagship events, including a gold medal in the Young Gardeners of the Year competition at the Ideal Home Show 2014.The Duchess of Kent Merit Awards – which honour support staff for their exceptional contribution to the College - were presented to Victoria Gentle, Human Resources Adviser, and Rebecca Hughes, Press and Publications Manager.
Student-led Teaching Awards were also presented at the ceremonies while the Students’ Union RAG (Raise and Give) charities, Farleigh Hospice and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, each received cheques for £2,000 raised from the year’s activities.