College Patron Alan Titchmarsh MBE paid a visit to the Titchmarsh Centre for animal studies and vet nursing at Writtle College on Tuesday 24 April. The Centre, which was officially opened by Alan in September 2011, was named after the popular celebrity Patron who has now supported the College for more than ten years. Well known for horticulture and gardening, during his visit Alan offered drought tips and enthusiastically commented: “this is the wettest drought we’ve ever had.”
During the opening of the College Centre last year Alan said: “I don’t think that there is any other building in Britain that has my name on it. I find this namesake astonishingly flattering.” It was this flattery that led Alan to request a return visit to the Titchmarsh Centre once it was up and running. Returning on a rather wet day in April, Alan toured the outside paddocks of the Centre which house animals such as sheep, Shetland ponies, chickens and a peacock.
In the barns of the outdoor courtyard Alan watched as students milked sheep, came face to face with Wylie the goat, petted some ferrets, all before moving on to the Dog Grooming parlour where he personally groomed a Labradoodle.
Alan’s tour also took in the indoor animal units – reptile, fish, Avery, companion – as well as the classrooms where Alan greeted both Further and Higher Education Animal Science and Vet Nursing students, and the infamous Spike the College cat.
Drawing on his area of expertise, Alan was asked to judge three landscape schematic designs which had been designed and proposed by Further Education Horticulture students to develop the currently unused land outside the Titchmarsh Centre.
Talking about his return visit to the Titchmarsh Centre Alan commented: “This Centre is superb; it teaches all of the essential practical skills for animal husbandry and vet nursing. It is exciting to see that all of the courses are so stuffed full of folk – it’s wonderful to see what people have the opportunity to learn here at Writtle. People here really know about the animals and the livestock, it’s our heritage and that’s why this place is so special.”
“The thing about Writtle is that it’s one of the best kept secrets in Essex, it’s a shining beacon - I’m thrilled my name is up there and I hope it stays there for a long time.”
In response to questions about the obviously wet weather in the middle of a ‘drought’ Alan spoke animatedly: “In this country there is no average weather – two seasons over two years are never the same. Right now the rain is going into the ground which is just what we need. Later on the thing to do is to store the rain water; you can then pump it out to your garden and avoid the hosepipe ban.”
Finally, Alan was keen to offer advice to interested students: “Finding a job that you know and love is the greatest satisfaction – I was one of the lucky people that found my niche!”
College Patron, Alan Titchmarsh will return to Writtle College on Thursday 6 September to honour undergraduate students during their graduation ceremony.
Pictured:The theoretical side of the Titchmarsh Centre, Alan with a class of Level 3 Vet Nursing students