Bumper crowds enjoy Reaseheath College Festival

Devils Horsemen Daniel Naprous and his black stallion perform.

Devils Horsemen Daniel Naprous and his black stallion perform.

Bumper crowds flocked to Reaseheath College on Sunday to join in the college’s annual Family Festival.

Thousands of visitors spent the day at the college’s Nantwich campus, enjoying the warm sunshine and carnival atmosphere.

Headline acts included a daring display of trick riding by The Devil’s Horsemen stunt team and displays by Titan, a giant robot whose latest appearances include the opening of the Winter Olympics at Sochi. Both acts had returned to Reaseheath due to popular demand.

Families also had the chance to see a replica of Bloodhound SSC, the supersonic car which will attempt a 1,000mph land speed record in 2016. The car was part of a technology theme running through the festival and had a simulator so that visitors could experience the thrill of driving the fastest car on earth.

Titan meets the crowd

Titan meets the crowd

Another world record was attempted during the day when 300 visitors got down and boogied on Reaseheath’s lawn to ‘Oops Upside Your Head’. The evidence is still under scrutiny, but it is hoped that the dance will earn Reaseheath a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The challenge was masterminded by members of Reaseheath’s Student Association to raise money for the college’s RAG (raising and giving) appeal, which this year goes to St Luke’s Cheshire Hospice.

The World War I was a supporting theme of the festival, with Reaseheath Food Centre putting on a WWI field kitchen and displays by North Staffordshire Military Vehicle Trust and Cheshire Land Rover Club.  The Devil’s Horsemen team brought an original WWI canteen carriage, which was paraded round the college grounds pulled by two draft horses.

BBC Radio Stoke presenter James Watt with Bloodhound SSC

BBC Radio Stoke presenter James Watt with Bloodhound SSC

The many other highlights included a calf show which was won by Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture student Becky Harper with fellow student Harley Sneyd as Reserve Champion. Families also enjoyed sheep shearing, a farmers’ and craft market, student horse riding displays, tours of the college’s zoo, a fun dog show, a tea garden and demonstrations ranging from tree climbing and chainsaw use to butchery and cheese making.

The many ‘have a go’ activities included the chance to try archery, climb the college’s indoor wall and tackle the high ropes course.

The Voice contestant Joe Keegan

The Voice contestant Joe Keegan

The main stage hosted guest artists including Celtica Irish Dancing, ‘The Voice’ contestant Joe Keegan and local band Hex. Younger visitors enjoyed an old time funfair games, miniature train rides, face painting and local ice cream.

Reaseheath family festival has been running for over 20 years and is one of a number of college events to attract a growing number of visitors from the region. A recent independent economic assessment revealed that Reaseheath contributes around £85.7 million in additional income per year to the local business community.

Said Principal Meredydd David: “Once again the Reaseheath team delivered a fabulous family festival for thousands of people. In my opinion it was the best ever festival and a phenomenal success, allowing our visitors to celebrate with us what’s best about Reaseheath.

“As well as being a shop window for the skills of our students, the festival also makes a fantastic contribution to our local community and has become a not to be missed event for many people.”


  • Bloodhound SSC, accompanied by its education team, has remained at Reaseheath this week and is being visited by 120 pupils from local schools each day. On Saturday 24th May the car will feature in the launch of the Cheshire Science Festival, which runs until June 1st and aims to encourage more pupils into science, technology, engineering and maths.


Young entrepreneurs impress with their business idea

Future business leaders from Reaseheath won an amazing four awards in this year’s Young Enterprise competition with their quirky idea to recycle glass bottles by turning them into household items.

Aptly named ‘New Generation’, the Level 3 Diploma in Business Studies students attracted praise for their idea of converting used glass bottles into candle holders, flower vases, pen pots and sweet holders. They won awards for the best overall company and for the best trade stand in the Cheshire East leg of the competition and went on to collect two more for innovation and creativity at the county stage.

The team organised a display, prepared a presentation and took sales orders from staff and students, families, friends and local outlets to prove that their business was financially viable.

Said Managing Director Shannon Tew: “The competition was very exciting and we learned a lot about running a real business. The judges gave us some really good comments and tips.”

Business Studies lecturer Julie Boulton added: “I’m very proud of the way the team worked together to come up with an attractive product and produce a business plan. Their presentation was excellent and they did really well to get as far as they did.”

The annual Young Enterprise competition encourages business talent in young people. Reaseheath business students regularly take part in competitions, visit companies and go on study tours to increase their industry and commercial experience.


Chancellor applauds plans for cutting edge Food Futures Centre

George Osborne cuts the first sod for the National Centre for Food Futures and the Environment, watched by Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David, MP Stephen O’Brien, MEP candidate Kevin Beaty  and Martin Smout, executive chairman of construction partner GB Building Solutions.

George Osborne cuts the first sod for the National Centre for Food Futures and the Environment, watched by Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David, MP Stephen O’Brien, MEP candidate Kevin Beaty and Martin Smout, executive chairman of construction partner GB Building Solutions.

Chancellor George Osborne has congratulated Reaseheath College’s efforts to help food producers meet the challenge of world population growth and climate change.

Cutting the first sod on the site of a £8.5 million National Centre for Food Futures and the Environment, Mr Osborne said: “Reaseheath College is rightly renowned for the quality of the education it provides, especially in the agriculture industry. I always want to try to provide funding for projects like this.

“One of the key elements of our long-term economic plan is to deliver the best schools and skills for young people  in all sectors so the next generation can succeed in the global race.”

The Chancellor chats to members of the Reaseheath’s Student Association.

The Chancellor chats to members of the Reaseheath’s Student Association.

The industry-led project will enable the Nantwich, Cheshire, college to support the government’s agri-tech strategy, which aims to make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, through the Skills Funding Agency, has allocated £5.8m of capital grant for the project.  The remainder has come directly from the college.

The building will provide a national centre for horticultural production, environmental management and conservation and renewable energy, and will be the leading one of its type in the country. It will include a visitor and interpretation centre and a schools unit and is the latest of a string of world class facilities to be built on campus.

In a second project, the college, in partnership with Cheshire East Council, is to develop a state-of-the-art centre for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. This £1.5m project, funded by the Education Funding Agency, will develop desperately needed specialist facilities for students from the Cheshire East area.

Both developments are to be sited on the former college golf course. The buildings have been designed with considerable input from industry advisors and are planned to be open for students and the public by September 2015.

George Osborne chats to arboriculture students.

George Osborne chats to arboriculture students.

The college also intends to reconstruct its existing turf based sports pitches and build new 3G and multi-use artificial sports areas. A sports centre for use by both students and the local community is also planned. This will cater for grass based team sports and sports requiring an artificial playing surface such as hockey, as well as offering  a six court sports hall, team changing facilities and a fitness centre.

Space released by the relocation of the horticulture department has been earmarked for further halls of residence, with construction planned to start this summer.

Vice Principal Dave Kynaston, George Osborne, Stephen O'Brien

George Osborne with Reaseheath Vice Principal Dave Kynaston and MP Stephen O’Brien.

Welcoming the Chancellor’s visit, Principal Meredydd David said that Reaseheath was delighted to be involved in the development of another world class educational facility.

He said: “I am thrilled that the government has identified Reaseheath as their preferred location for investing capital to develop this national Food Futures Centre. This will ensure that Reaseheath can continue to deliver specialist technical and educational training to next generation leaders.”

Mr Osborne was accompanied on his visit by local MP Stephen O’Brien and  MEP candidate for the north west Kevin Beaty.

Old Hall Field Sumo Subsoiler Demonstration

Earlier this month our Agriculture Department received a machinery demonstration from SUMO UK Ltd. Richard Hales, sales manager for Sumo, brought the machinery on-site for a demonstration and to start a trial on one of our fields.

Staff and final year Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture students were involved in the machinery demonstration. As well as being able to see what the machinery is capable of, the demonstration linked in with the grassland module our students are currently completing.

Anthony Jones from Agriculture, along with Farm Manager Mark Yearsley, have teamed up with Richard Hales from SUMO to organise this grassland trial. The trial will investigate the possibility of more consistent grass growth, extended grazing season and reduced chemical fertiliser costs as well as better soil health and structure.

The trial is expected to lead on to further research of the improvements that the subsoil machine can bring to the grazing grassland at Reaseheath.

The field was split into three areas. The first strip has been treated with the subsoil machine provided by SUMO at a depth of 8 inches. The middle strip was left untreated. The final strip, at the far end of the field, was aerated to a depth of 4 inches by first year Level 3 Extended Diploma students on one of their practicals. This enable staff and students to compare and contrast the different treatments available to existing swards.

This research will be ongoing in Field 7 over at Old Hall and will be repeated in the autumn through to next spring 2015.

The public will in fact be part of this trial as in May Field 7 will be used as a car park for our annual Family Festival. This will put pressure on the field and compact it. Following the Family Festival the recovery of the field will be monitored and hopefully the area which has been treated with the SUMO machine will hold up to compaction the best.


Reaseheath undergraduate wins chance to join USA horse research project

Reaseheath undergraduate Charlotte Woolley has won a prestigious internship at the world’s leading equine breeding and research centre.

Charlotte, 21, who is in the final year of her BSc (Hons) in Equine Science, will spend this summer working and studying at the Virginia Tech State University, USA. The university specialises in breeding and producing top quality sports horses. Charlotte will be trained in veterinary techniques and will assist with research into nutrition, reproduction and parasitology.  She will also help to prepare youngstock for the show ring.

The three month internship is offered through the British Equestrian Federation and is open to all veterinary related institutions  in Britain. Charlotte was judged to be the top candidate after writing a 3000 word paper on equine obesity and discussing its welfare implications. The final selection was held at the BEF headquarters in Hertfordshire in front of a panel of industry leaders.

Charlotte flies out in June and will return in September in time for Reaseheath’s graduation ceremony. Aiming for a career as a veterinary research scientist, she then plans to study for a Masters in research or a PhD in veterinary science.

She says: “This is a very exciting opportunity which is perfect for my future career. I enjoy learning and my ambition is to have a job that is continually challenging and mentally stimulating. My passion is research – it genuinely fascinates me.

“The opportunity to visit leading equestrian events and stud farms in a beautiful part of America will be an unforgettable experience. I am also looking forward to putting the theory I learnt during my degree into practice.

“This internship will build on both my academic and practical skills and broaden my horizons in terms of my current knowledge of the equine industry. I know that it will be a truly life changing experience.”

Originally from Buxton, Charlotte completed ‘A’  levels at Leek College before becoming a Reaseheath student three years ago. She has ridden from a young age and has successfully  competed at show jumping and showing including a HOYS qualification.  She currently lives in Nantwich.

She adds: “I really enjoy studying for my degree at Reaseheath. There’s a great atmosphere and you get lots of individual support from your lecturers if you need it. I definitely made the right choice when I decided to come here.”

You can find out more about our Equine degrees here.


Winning undergraduates to attend key scientific conference

Six Reaseheath equine undergraduates have won bursaries to attend a key International scientific conference.

BSc Hons Equine Science students Amy Porter, Charlotte Woolley, Marie Gellion, Jess Irving and Megan O’Loughlin  and Foundation Degree in Equine Science and Management student Emily Westwood will be delegates at the International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology (ICEEP) when it takes place in June.

The conference, which aims to advance understanding of the physiology, function and health of the equine athlete, is viewed as one of the top scientific forums and gives academics the opportunity to share best practice. International speakers will present papers on subjects such as nutrition, biochemistry of exercise, muscle physiology and the genetics of performance.

The conference will run over four days in Chester and our undergraduates can choose to attend one of the days. To win the bursaries, offered through the Cheshire Racing Hub, the students successfully wrote 500 word summaries on why attending the conference will help them in their future careers. They will join delegates from Britain’s veterinary schools and equine colleges.

All our undergraduates are considering careers in scientific research and are keen to hear leading authorities present the results of high quality investigative studies. They will also use the opportunity to learn more about the mentoring available to post-graduate students and junior scientists.

Marie Gellion, who intends to continue onto a Masters degree, is looking forward to hearing Professor Raymond Geor, a leading equine exercise physiologist from America. She said: “This will be a unique and inspirational opportunity to hear the latest research from someone I’ve admired for a long time.”

ICEEP will run over four days in Chester.  Reaseheath’s Higher Education Programme Leader Dr Jan Birch is on the organising committee and encouraged our students to apply for the bursaries.

She said: “I was delighted that six of our undergraduates were successful, particularly as the applications were of a very high standard.”

You can find out more about our Equine degrees here.


Young entrepreneurs impress with their business idea

Future business leaders from Reaseheath College have won the first leg of this year’s Young Enterprise competition with their quirky idea to recycle glass bottles by turning them into household items.

Aptly named ‘New Generation’, the team of 13 Level 3 Diploma in Business Studies students will represent Cheshire East at the county stage of the contest, to be held in Warrington on May 6th.

Their business idea – to turn reshape glass bottles into candle holders, flower vases, pen pots and sweet holders – won them TWO awards, for the best overall company and for the best trade stand.

Four experienced business judges put Reaseheath in the top slot after considering entries from six  schools and institutions which teach business studies. They judged the display and listened to a presentation by Managing Director Shannon Tew, Sales Director Sam Thurlow, IT Manager Victor Parker and Operations Director Luke Rimmer. The competition was held at Barclays Radbrooke Hall, Knutsford.

To increase their chances of success at county level the students now have to prove the business is financially viable and are busy taking sales orders from staff and students, families, friends and local outlets. They will be displaying their range in the campus restaurant and will also visit departments to drum up business.  Products can be made to order.

If they are successful at the next stage our students will represent Cheshire against other winners from the north west region.  Regional winners go on to the prestigious national finals in London.

The annual Young Enterprise competition aims to encourage business talent in young people. Our students regularly take part in competitions, visit companies and go on study tours to increase their business and commercial experience.

Said Shannon Tew: “The competition so far has been very exciting and we’re working really hard to get to the next level. We’ve already learned a lot about running a real business and the judges gave us some really good comments and tips.”

Business Studies Course Manager and lecturer Julie Boulton, who has helped to mentor the students and is link tutor for the competition added: “I’m very proud of the way the team has worked together to come up with an attractive product and produce a business plan. Their presentation was excellent. I’m hoping that more success is on the horizon.”

For more details visit :  www.facebook.com/newgenerationyoungenterprise


Spiky newborn makes Easter appearance at Reaseheath’s Zoo

A spiky newborn with attitude is making his first public appearance at Reaseheath College’s zoo in Nantwich over Easter.

The baby porcupine, known as a ‘porcupette’, was born in  March to one of the college’s three female porcupines. The youngster was given its first health check last week by zookeepers, who found he was male and that, at 958 grams, he had more than doubled its birth weight. He is quickly becoming independent and showing his rather grumpy character!

porcupette with keeper

The porcupette is handled for the first time by a Reaseheath zoo keeper

The porcupette is on display in the zoo’s courtyard enclosure, along with his mother, grandmother and other family members.

Other newborn zoo animals include a pancake tortoise and a muntjac faun named Marius. A two year-old male Asian Small Clawed Otter called Wonga has also joined the collection from a visitor attraction in Devon. The newcomer is settling in well with Reaseheath’s  female otter ‘Ying’ and can be seen in the otter enclosure.

Reaseheath’s animal collection also includes meerkats, spider monkeys, ring tailed lemurs, a serval cat, birds of prey and many reptiles, amphibians, fish and companion animals like rabbits.

As well as touring the enclosures and joining in educational activities, families can learn how to reduce their carbon footprint by joining the Pole to Pole campaign. The campaign has been adopted by leading zoos and aquariums in Europe and North America and aims to influence the energy consumption of visitors.

Additional activities over the holiday weekend include an Easter egg hunt. Zoo visitors also get a 10% reduction off plants and vegetables in Reaseheath’s Crop Shop.

Reaseheath Zoo is open to the public until Easter Monday, 21st April, 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm)

Admission: £15 family (2 adults and 3 children); £5 adult;£4 Children/ concessions. Under 3s free

More details visit www.reaseheath.ac.uk/zoo or email zoo@reaseheath.ac.uk


Racing careers could be a good bet for Reaseheath equine students

Reaseheath College equine students are keen to kick on into horse racing careers following an action packed event focused on the industry.

Jobs from jockey to media specialist were described by key members of Cheshire’s thriving and highly competitive horse racing industry at a careers day organised by the Cheshire Racing Hub and held at Reaseheath’s Equestrian Centre.

The range of opportunities seemed a good bet for the 120 students who attended, many of whom were eager to learn about related careers such as bloodstock breeding, farriery, physiotherapy and equine nutrition.

Speakers included Carrie Ford, a Co-ordinator for the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust, who described the varied roles on a professional racing yard and how well paid many of the jobs are, with a guaranteed pension scheme and a percentage of the prize money going to staff. An assistant trainer and top jockey who raced in the Grand National, Carrie also brought along some racing tack and equipment.

Point to point trainer Oliver Greenall rode two of his racehorses in the college’s indoor arena to demonstrate training for optimum fitness while Will Kinsey, National Hunt trainer and bloodstock specialist, described buying young horses from sales and what to look for. He also talked the students through online racing websites and how to enter horses for relevant races.

Sarah Beattie, Marketing Manager from the Northern Racing College, gave students a taster of race riding on Reaseheath’s mechanical horse ‘Flicka’ and described the courses and apprenticeships available for those who want to specialise in racing.

Lucinda Dutton from Chester Racecourse talked about her role in marketing and her work with sponsors. She also discussed the size and scope of the industry and the many graduate traineeships available.

Jo Miles, Head Veterinary Nurse for the Hampton Veterinary Group, talked about dealing with injuries and described routes into veterinary nursing.

The event was organised by Emma Owen and Sarah Hamlyn, Project Co-ordinators for the Cheshire Racing Hub as part of its ‘careers in racing’ initiative. Funded by the British Horseracing Authority and Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Cheshire Racing Hub aims to link schools, colleges and businesses so they connect into the exciting sport of horse racing.

The initiative is being led by Cheshire West and Chester Council as part of its rural regeneration strategy and is supported by the county’s leading racing yards and associated businesses. Project partners include Reaseheath College, the University of Chester and the University of Liverpool’s Veterinary School.

Recognising that horse racing is a key area for employment, Reaseheath’s  equine team is now looking at more ways to help students to prepare for careers in the industry

Equine Programme Leader Sarah Houghton said: “The event was a fantastic success and the calibre of guests and speakers was excellent. Their experience and passion for the industry was tangible and the students came away with lots of exciting opportunities to consider. Horse racing is big business, particularly in Cheshire, and it offers many career options.”

“I am very grateful for the time and effort put in by all the speakers and particularly to Sarah Hamlyn and Emma Owen for organising the event and giving our students such a fantastic opportunity.”

Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management student Tara Taylor, 18, who owns an ex-racehorse herself, said: “This has been a really good event.  I’ve learned a lot about the racing industry and I’m now really interested in looking at a career in the bloodstock industry.”

For further details visit www.reaseheath.ac.uk/equine and www.cheshireracinghub.co.uk


New life saving kits for campus

Reaseheath has become the first college to receive defibrillators from The Oliver King Foundation.

Eight of the potentially life saving kits will be placed strategically around campus and will be used in the event of anyone having a cardiac arrest. Thirty-eight staff members are already trained to use them and many more will undergo training.

The Oliver King Foundation was set up in memory of a 12 year old who died from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), which causes sudden death in apparently healthy young people. Nineteen youngsters a week are lost through the condition.

We raised over £10,000 for The Oliver King Foundation when it was our RAG charity in 2012. The foundation, which has backing from MPs and councillors, aims to put defibrillators in community areas where they will be available to give essential and immediate first aid in the ‘golden’ four minutes following cardiac arrest.

The equipment has been placed in schools in the Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Wirral areas and has already been used to help save the lives of three young people. The Foundation plans to expand the scheme throughout the north west and then nationally.  Reaseheath is the first college to benefit by purchasing defibrillators from the charity.

Our Chaplain, Drew Walker, has overseen the project and invited Oliver’s dad Mark King, the charity’s founder, to Reaseheath last week to hand over the equipment personally.

Drew said: “Having the defibrillators readily available on campus will help us in our efforts to provide a completely safe environment for our students, staff and visitors. We’ve already had lots of positive feedback from our involvement with the scheme.”

This year’s RAG charity is St Luke’s Cheshire Hospice.