Writtle University College students threw their mortarboards in the air on Friday 6th September. Around 300 people graduated from higher education courses in a stunning ceremony at Chelmsford Cathedral.
The Deputy Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor and Mayoress, Chancellor Baroness Anne Jenkin, distinguished guests, families and friends, joined the graduating students. Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Middleton said; “We were delighted to celebrating the success of the Class of 2019. These intelligent, determined and capable people all worked hard to complete their studies.
“Our past students include government ministers and leaders of successful land based businesses. We look forward to seeing what this year’s graduates go on to achieve as the newest members of the worldwide family of Writtle alumni.”
Equine Performance and Business Management graduate, Kaile Louise Sherry, received the Student of the Year Award 2019. She said: “After three long years of hard work, tears and laughter it was great to finish university with such an amazing experience – our graduation. It was an honour to graduate at Chelmsford Cathedral with all my fellow classmates, the atmosphere was pleasantly overwhelming and it was lovely to see so many friends, family and lecturers there to support us on our special day.
“I cannot believe it’s all over and I wish everyone the best for their futures and good luck on their next adventures.”
Alongside the graduates were honorary degree recipients Lynda Hamilton and Debranne Patillo. Former WUC governor, Paul Downer, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship.
Lynda Hamilton, the widow of former Writtle student and BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Geoff Hamilton, has tirelessly supported horticulture students and projects in her role as one of the founders of the Geoff Hamilton New Gardeners’ Foundation.
Debranne Patillo has worked closely with WUC since the inception of the first Equine Sports Therapy awards in 2008. Since 1994, she has been the lead instructor for equine sports massage, body work and anatomy courses in the USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
In addition to serving as a Governor at WUC from 2008 until 2018, Paul Downer owns successful business Oak View Landscapes Limited. A longstanding member of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), he has been a Board Director since 2006 and became National Chairman for two years in September 2016.
Mr Downer drew upon his own experiences as a student at Writtle to offer the new graduates inspirational advice, telling them: “Every day I live my dreams and I embrace the challenges that life brings.” He commented: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious award in recognition for distinction in industry, distinction in public service and distinction in service for Writtle University College. Writtle has and always will remain special to me. Receiving this award 30 years on since I graduated only re-enforces that feeling.”
Former Student Union President, Emma-Jane Murray, presented Student-Led Awards to exceptional members of staff before delivering the Vote of Thanks. Her speech urged recent graduates not to be afraid of making mistakes and, most of all, to “be proud, be positive, be kind!”