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Catching up with Elizabeth Murray, NPTC Level 4 Higher Diploma in Floristry, 2013

Elizabeth Murray Level 4 floristry alumnus editA practising solicitor, Elizabeth combines her daytime career with her passion for floral design.

Introduced to floristry through a Saturday leisure course offered by our Floristry Department, Elizabeth was so inspired that she continued learning on our beginners, intermediate and advanced level NOCN evening classes.

She then progressed onto the professionally recognised City & Guilds Levels 2 and 3 Diplomas and in 2013 achieved her Level 4 Higher Diploma – one of the most advanced qualifications available.

Elizabeth has found that her love of flowers, coupled with the inspiration and training offered by our lecturers, has opened doors to a whole new world.

Now, Elizabeth’s primary floral passion is the art and philosophy of Ikebana – Japanese flower arranging She has  gained her Associate Second Master’s certificate with the Ohara School of Ikebana, and is one of only a handful of English people to achieve this level. Elizabeth teaches Ohara Ikebana in London to students of all nationalities, including several who fly to London from overseas to attend her classes.

Busy Elizabeth is also President of the Manchester Chapter of Ikebana International and Vice-President of the England Chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana.

“My journey has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every one of my courses at Reaseheath. They have all helped to foster and pull together my interest in floral design.”

Reaseheath agriculture graduates launch calf rearing business

Chris Webb and Larry Anscombe with their automatic calf feeder

Chris Webb and Larry Anscombe with their automatic calf feeder

Reaseheath agricultural graduates Chris Webb and Larry Anscombe have joined forces to form a thriving calf rearing business. Along with their friend Chris Roberts, the entrepreneurial pair launched their calf unit while they were first year degree students and continued to expand it alongside their studies. They have grown quickly from an initial intake of 30 calves to rearing 130 calves on a farm at Welsh Frankton, Shropshire, and, after just a year and a half, are taking over the tenancy on a second larger unit nearby.

The core of the business is raising beef-cross calves on milk and concentrate. The animals are purchased from farms across Shropshire and Cheshire at two to three weeks of age for resale as weanlings at around three months. On the same system, dairy heifer calves are contract-reared for local dairy farmers. Already the business is attracting return custom, with the partners attributing their success to their niche specialism, to making the most of technology and to their high standards of welfare.

The calves are machine-fed in groups of 25 to 30, with electronic identification collars to allow individual monitoring, ration-control and progressive weaning to minimise stress and post-weaning check. From arrival, calves have ad lib starter, straw and water, and are fed 1kg of CMR daily. This drives early growth during the period of maximum feed efficiency and also primes their metabolism for high starter intakes as they progress onto solid feed.

Larry Anscombe tops up calf pellets

Larry Anscombe tops up calf pellets

By combining traditional good stockmanship with feeder automation and technology for monitoring health and performance, their system is able to deliver healthy calves with excellent growth rates, despite a relatively low workload. Careful monitoring of live weight gain also allows changes and protocols to be continuously tuned, compared and assessed.

Chris Webb came to Reaseheath as a mature student, having previously run technology companies following a maths degree at the University of Cambridge in the 1990s. He doesn’t have a farming background, so studying for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture with Dairy Herd Management helped him build the skills and knowledge to enable him to break into a new industry.

Larry, who comes from a farming family, studied for his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture at Walford College, Shropshire, completing this as student of the year. He then progressed on to a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Reaseheath to enable him to aim higher in his chosen career.

Chris Roberts graduated from Harper Adams in 2007 and now works as a partner in his family dairy farm. He was instrumental in a successful conversion to robot-milking in 2011 and subsequent expansion of the herd, so he is no stranger to the benefits technology can bring to a farming business.

Both Reaseheath graduates credit the success of their partnership with the inspired teaching and balance of academic and practical learning which they received while undergraduates.

Chris Webb said: “Reaseheath provided a great learning experience which included a comprehensive, well-taught course which was directly relevant to real-life farming. I enjoyed studying with a friendly, tight-knit group from a mix of backgrounds. The specialist dairy side of the course is unique in the UK as it’s condensed into studying for two days a week, enabling many of us to hold down farming jobs at the same time. Our course manager, Dr Jane Richardson, inspired and encouraged us to pursue our start-up business.”

Larry, who is a member of Whitchurch Young Farmers Club, added: “Rearing calves to three months of age can be a hassle for some farmers as it is an additional task alongside running the mature animals. We have chosen to concentrate on this area and, so far, it has proved very successful.

“Just because we use modern technology doesn’t make us less of a stockman. It allows us to focus more on the health of the calves while having a more flexible lifestyle.”

For further details on buying or selling calves, or for a chat about this start-up business, contact Chris Webb chris@arachsys.com

Rising star Robert addresses the Oxford Farming Conference

Ambitious young farmer Robert Yardley addressed delegates and had the opportunity to meet Princess Anne at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference (OFC).

Robert, 29, a current Reaseheath Foundation Degree in Agriculture undergraduate, took to the main stage of the prestigious conference to speak of his experiences with the Young DLG – the youth network of the German Agricultural Society.

Robert, who attended the OFC last year as Reaseheath’s representative, was one of three scholar delegates to be awarded an OFC travel scholarship to attend the Young DLG Conference at Agritechnica, Germany, last November. The exchange is part of a collaboration between the OFC and the Young DLG and aims to give young people involved in British and German agriculture a networking and learning opportunity at leading agricultural events.

Robert Yardley meets Princess Anne at the Oxford Farming Conference

Robert Yardley meets Princess Anne at the Oxford Farming Conference

Robert, who is studying at Reaseheath part-time alongside his job as an arable operator, gave a presentation at the Young DLG conference about farming in the UK and more specifically in Cheshire. He was also able to tour Agritechnica, which is a leading international exhibition of agricultural machinery and equipment, go on farm tours organised by the Young DLG and enjoy interacting with German young farmers.

Describing the experience as ‘a great opportunity which will help further my future career’, Robert told the OFC how he had been able to explore farming practices which met current challenges and had been impressed with the way some businesses were structured to make the most of the marketplace.

He told delegates: “I was delighted to attend Agritechnica and to be representing the OFC at such a globally important event.”

Outside the conference, Robert paid tribute to the support he has received from Reaseheath Agriculture and in particular from course manager Dr Jane Richardson, who put him forward to attend the OFC in 2015. Reaseheath’s delegate for 2016 was Chris Kogel, who is also studying for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture but specialising in Dairy Herd Management.

The three day conference had the theme ‘Bold Agriculture’ and featured Defra Secretary Liz Truss and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan among other key speakers.

For more info see www.ofc.org.uk

Since attending the Young DLG conference, Robert has taking every opportunity to learn more about agriculture in other EU countries and is particularly interested in how businesses manage volatile markets.

He is a member of the NFU’s North West Crops Board and as a result was invited by leading agricultural company Syngenta to travel to the Ukraine in December to share his experience of the UK industry with farmers there. Accompanying NW Crop’s Board chairman Olly Harrison, he spent a week building relationships with farmers who are interested in entering into a new grain market strategy with Syngenta.

Robert made a presentation to around 50 farmers at a finance forum on how the grain market works in the UK. He also toured individual farms meeting owners and managers, which allowed him to better understand the Ukraine perspective of grain marketing. The visit was so successful that Syngenta is likely to repeat it early this year.

Robert re-entered farming in his early 20s after experiencing several other industries. He gained valuable experience as a harvesting contractor in Australia and New Zealand before taking his current job on an arable farm in Widnes and aims to be a farm manager.

Katie excels during latest South African adventure

BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation and Ecology graduate Katie Adams is set on a highly specialised career helping to conserve endangered species.

Widely travelled and with experience of working in animal rehabilitation in South Africa and in the UK, she feels that achieving her Reaseheath degree has very much helped to crystallize her career options.

Katie Adams in Africa duing her FGASA training

Katie Adams in Africa during her FGASA training

Hoping to specialise in the conservation of big cats and habitats, Katie’s returned to South Africa in January on 6 month training scheme with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) to gain her level 1 field guide licence. So far she’s achieved 90% and above in a range of modules in her first semester including an introduction to guiding, mammals , reptiles, ecology, taxonomy, tree identification and ethology.

Once she’s completed her initial training Katie will go on to complete a 6 month work placement. From there she intends to combine working as a field guide with conservation research, hoping to concentrate on  the Limpopo region of South Africa.

Although she has always wanted to work with animals, Katie, 28, admits she had trouble choosing the right career in a very diverse industry. She completed an apprenticeship in small animal care, but realised that it wasn’t the right path for her.

As she had been out of full time education for a while, Katie prepared for her degree by completing a Access to HE course in biological sciences in her home town of Hull. She proceeded to combine studying for her degree with a job as a supermarket deputy manager.

She says: “I always knew I wanted to work with endangered animals, however in such a competitive industry it can be hard to know how to pursue your dream.

“I left school at 17 and never thought I would go back into education. But with the support of lecturers at Reaseheath, I’ve gained the personal confidence and professional encouragement to develop skills I didn’t know I had. Those skills I will no doubt benefit from for many years to come.

“Despite the hard work needed to complete my degree, it was some of the best years of my life.”

Student satisfaction soars at Reaseheath College

Higher Education student satisfaction has risen for the second consecutive year at Reaseheath College according to the National Student Survey (NSS).

Overall student satisfaction has risen by 12% on the previous year with the results showing an 86% satisfaction score for teaching and 83% for the academic support provided to its Higher Education students.

Dean of Higher Education, Rachel Ellis-Jones, commented: “I am absolutely delighted at yet another increase in our student satisfaction. This is evidence of our staff’s commitment to ensuring our students have a successful academic outcome, but also really enjoy their time at Reaseheath College.”

Commenting on the results of the NSS, Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “The survey provides detailed and robust data which is used extensively by universities and colleges to improve the quality of their teaching and learning. It is also valuable in supporting prospective students and their parents and advisors in helping choose which higher education institution to select.”

With two commendations from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) for student learning opportunities and enhancement of student learning opportunities, there has never been a better time to study at Reaseheath College.

The Reaseheath equine experience

Ever wondered what it’s like to be an equine student at Reaseheath College?…

If you have any questions about life as an equine student, the industry, university or on-job training, we’re here to help. Join our live Horse and Hound web chat today 12pm-2pm. Reaseheath’s senior equine science lecturer Kate Douglas-Dala and Level 2 Diploma in Horse Care course manager, Jess Denham, will be ready to answer any questions you may have. 

Find out more about our equine courses at: www.reaseheath.ac.uk/equine


Jack wins scholarship to explore fish behaviour

Congratulations to Jack Wootton, a third year undergraduate on our BSc Wildlife Conservation and Ecology Degree.

Jack  has been awarded a two month £1600 scholarship from the Universities Federation For Animal Welfare (UFAW)  to explore the behavioural responses of fish to reflective stimuli in their tanks. This will take place over the summer using fantailed guppies and will be based at the University of Chester.

Jack has always been passionate about fish welfare. He completed a Diploma in Animal Management at Reaseheath  in 2010 and then spent two years working in the field in Borneo and in the industry near his home in Stockport.

He followed this by completing his Foundation Degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Reaseheath, followed by his current one year top-up which will hopefully lead to him achieving his BSc in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology. In addition to his studies Jack gained highly relevant experience working part-time as a zoo keeper at our Animal Centre, helping to look after our fish department.

Jack, who is particularly keen to improve the living conditions of fish in aquaria, applied for his scholarship independently while working for his degree.

He said:  “I was really surprised but delighted when my project proposal was chosen. I am really looking forward to working with UFAW. Reaseheath has played  an integral part in building my passion for aquatic life and furthering my career .”

Helen Kay, Higher Education Support Team (HEST) Leader, said: “Jack is definitely one to watch for the future. As well as working to the highest level for his degrees, he always found time to help, educate and inspire less experienced students. The HEST team is convinced he will go to the very top in his career.”

Marine mammal emergency averted!

A beached pilot whale and several dolphins and seals were successfully rescued from the front lawn at Reaseheath College on Tuesday.

Fortunately the emergency wasn’t for real, but a simulated situation to enable 37 animal management students to gain an internationally recognised qualification in wildlife rescue.

The one day course was offered to degree students and to Access to HE students who are studying science or animal management. After a morning of lectures and an afternoon of practical instruction using inflatable life sized models, all students achieved their British Divers Marine Life Rescue “Marine Mammal Medic” certificate.

This well recognised award qualifies our students to help in day-to-day marine wildlife emergencies and will be a fantastic addition to their CVs.

The training day was organised by HE Course Manager Kizzy Beaumont and was the third time we have offered this qualification to our students. It has proved so popular that Kizzy is now planning to run a follow up ‘wet’ course on the coast, when students will get hands-on with the rescue of a live marine mammal.

Josh Bufton, a second year Foundation Degree in Zoo Management student, was spotted for his talent by the instructors, who suggested he should widen his knowledge by gaining his advanced qualification.

Josh, who hopes to work with marine species in the future, said “This has been a great opportunity to gain a qualification which will help me to decide what sector I’d like to work in.

“The course was extremely informative and the instructors were very professional. I would highly recommend the training to all students who enjoy learning about marine mammals.”

Co-incidentally one of the instructors, Jayne Dobner, was a Level 3 agriculture student with us in the 1980s and hasn’t been on campus since.

She said: “It’s great to be back. The campus looks a lot more modern than when I was here, but it still has the same friendly vibe!”

Caption: HE animal management students enjoy their marine mammal training on the front lawn

 

Agricultural undergraduates hone their lab skills as they get inside science

First year Foundation Degree in Agriculture students really got stuck in to investigating the internal workings of the heart and lungs as part of their Agricultural Biology module.

Carefully dissecting hearts and lungs from sheep, pigs and cattle they were able to see first-hand the similarities and differences between species. Detailed knowledge of how body systems work in farm animals is key to understanding their management, particularly with respect to maintaining health and welfare while maximising production.

Even the most squeamish in the group admitted they had enjoyed themselves!

For more information on our Agriculture degree courses visit the Higher Education Agriculture pages on our website.

Wise shepherd achieves her farming dream

Agriculture graduate Caroline Jellicoe took the plunge and moved to Cumbria to manage her own own sheep farm having completed her degree at Reaseheath.

Caroline was inspired back to education after visiting the Nantwich campus with her children during lambing season back in 2010.

Coming from a background in zoo keeping, Caroline has worked with a range of exotic animals in her career so far, but was keen to expand her knowledge of the farming industry.

Caroline prepared for her degree by completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma at Reaseheath, where she found her passion for sheep farming.

During the second year of her degree, Caroline bought an acre of land along with six zwartbles shearling pedigree sheep and a ram called Mr Gibbs. The 27th February 2014 saw the ewes give birth to Caroline’s first flock of lambs.

Toba, Caroline's youngest and most enthusiastic farm hand

Toba, Caroline’s youngest and most enthusiastic farm hand

She commented, “It was a long road to get to the of point of having my own flock of sheep – but it was all worth it.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of the Farm Manager Mark Yearsley and other staff, along with the opportunity to gain experience working on the College farm during my time at Reaseheath. This all helped me on my way to achieve my dream of owning my own sheep flock.”

On looking to the future Caroline said, “I am always looking for more land. I only wanted a few sheep at first, but since I visited a friend’s farm in Yorkshire and falling in love with it, I decided I would dream BIG – I am aiming for 1,000 sheep now. In one year I have gone from no sheep to 40 and I intend to grow and grow.”

With her experience working with exotic animals, Caroline is also the proud owner of an eagle owl, barn owl, tortoise, bearded dragons and goats. As a diversification programme to her flock business, she has set up a new enterprise ‘The Three Wise Shepherds’, a programme of  educational talks with her variety of animals. She has also begun to take the animals to children’s parties for petting along with ‘meet and greet’ experiences for children and adults of all ages.

Caroline has graduated from Reaseheath in 2014 with a Distinction in her Foundation Degree and celebrated her success along with fellow classmates at our graduation ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Nantwich. In December 2014 Caroline moved to a fell farm in Cumbria, where she now manages 200 herdwick ewes plus her own zwartbles flock.

If you would like to find out more about Caroline and her growing business ‘The Three Wise Shepherds’, follow her twitter handle @sheepstudent.