Turner Prize-winning artist Professor Grenville Davey and Essex farming stalwart Robert Howie were honoured alongside graduates at the Writtle College ceremonies today <3 September>.
Robert Howie, who farms and runs business ventures with his four sons at the family farm in Essex – well-known for the Wicks Manor premium bacon and sausages brand as well as Shaken Udder milkshakes – was presented with an Honorary Fellowship in the morning ceremony at Chelmsford Cathedral.
Essex-based sculptor Professor Grenville Davey, who won the Turner Prize in 1992, was given an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the afternoon ceremony.
Agriculture, Conservation, Floristry and Horticulture students heard from Guest of Honour TV horticulturist Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Writtle College’s Patron, in the morning ceremony after being presented with their University of Essex qualifications.
Attending his fifteenth ceremony for Writtle College, his enthusiasm for careers in the land-based industries shone through. He said: “Looking after the land is the lifeblood of society. Without it – without you people – we wouldn’t be able to live. That’s obvious in terms of food production but it’s also true of other discplines like Floristry. We need food for our tummies and food for our minds.”
Dr Phil Askew, Writtle College alumnus, was the Guest of Honour in the afternoon ceremony to honour those graduating from Writtle School of Design courses – including Landscape Architecture & Garden Design, Art & Design and Interior Architecture & Design. He gave an insight into an inspiring 30-year career that culminated in him being the landscape architect behind the Olympic Park in Stratford.
The ceremonies came after yesterday’s Animal, Equine and Sport graduates were presented with their awards. In that event, Lise-Lotte Olsen, a former Chair of the Board of Governors at Writtle College, was given an Honorary Doctorate Degree, while Dr Geoff Hosey, Honorary Professor of Biology at the University of Bolton, was the Guest of Honour.
Dr Stephen Waite, Principal of the College, said: “This year has been a milestone in the College’s history as we take further steps to focus our mission of transforming lives and the environment through inspiring education.
“Writtle was granted Taught-Degree Awarding Powers by the Privy Council in March this year, allowing the College to validate its own Higher Education programmes. This development builds on the recognition of academic standards and quality that Writtle has earned from external agencies.
“This is hugely significant, as one of Writtle’s strategic ambitions is to become an independent, internationally-recognised university college in our specialist fields.
“These are exciting times for Writtle, and our graduates here today will contribute towards our long history of producing outstanding leaders in their fields.”
The Duchess of Kent awards – which honour support and academic staff for their exceptional contribution to the College – were awarded to 14-19 Development Officer Esther Blakey, Management Accountant Pauline Eagar and Senior Lecturer in Floristry Julia Ryde.
Representatives from the Students’ Union RAG (Raise and Give) charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Farming Community Network, received cheques for £1,750 raised from the year’s activities.