Lambs herald Spring at Reaseheath College

Hundreds of local families are expected to flock to Reaseheath College in Nantwich this weekend for the first of two lambing events.

Spring has already arrived in the college’s lambing sheds with the arrival of the first newborns of the season. The lambing weekends have been a major draw to the college over the past 20 years, with many visitors returning each season to meet the lambs and hopefully experience a live birth.

Agriculture student Matt Broady with an early arrival

Agriculture student Matt Broady with an early arrival

The campus zoo, which is one of the best at any educational institution in the country, is also open to the public. Both attractions are open on March 5 and 6 (10am – 4pm) and again on March 12 and 13.

The college has a flock of 500 expectant ewes which will produce 1,000 lambs before the end of the month. Three sets of quads and 59 sets of triplets are expected.  During quiet times in the lambing sheds, visitors can watch a big screen showing highlights of the action and watch experts demonstrating the special care required for the delivery and care of the lambs.

Reaseheath’s zoo houses over 1,000 animals including meerkats, lemurs, tapirs, otters, birds of prey, companion animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, reptiles and amphibians.  Activities include face painting and educational talks by Reaseheath zoo keepers.

Reaseheath’s sheep unit manager Ollie Bagley, 23, a former Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture student, is in charge of the lambing flock helped by a rota of current students who are gaining practical experience in the lambing sheds.

He said: “Lambing is traditionally the first sign of spring and this event is always very popular. Opening the lambing sheds gives us the chance to show what we do here.  As well as giving the public the unique experience of seeing lambs being born, it is also a great opportunity for us to tell them about the farming calendar and about the food on their plate.”

A family ticket for both attractions is £25

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Aspiring businesswoman Hannah uses undergraduate research in industry

Business minded Hannah Dickson is using her equine science degree to help develop her own faecal egg counting business.

BSc (Hons) Equine Science Hannah Dickson - Outstanding Achievement in undergraduate research in Equine Science Award winner

BSc (Hons) Equine Science Hannah Dickson – Outstanding Achievement in undergraduate research in Equine Science Award winner

After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science (2:1), Hannah was keen to put her undergraduate research skills into industry practice. With a blend of entrepreneurial spirit and high-class research skills honed during her degree, Hannah launched her own mobile faecal egg counting business under the name of EquineErudition.

During her degree Hannah had the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at Harthill Stud in Cheshire and it was here she discovered her interest in faecal egg counting.

Said Hannah: “It was hard to choose which direction to pursue with regards to a career, as I’d thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my degree course. However, it was after my work experience at Harhtill, I approached one of my lecturers for advice about setting up a business which really helped me to get things started.”

Hannah went on to focus on faecal egg counting for her dissertation topic, studying the effect of temperature on the number of eggs in a sample. She found that samples are best preserved at fridge temperature, of around 4°C, as apposed to room temperature (19.5 °C) and freezer temperature (-18°C).

Commended for her first class research skills whilst a student, Hannah was awarded the Reaseheath Dean of Higher Education’s ‘Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research’ accolade.

Said Hannah: “I’m incredibly proud of my Outstanding Achievement award and I loved every minute of studying at Reaseheath – it truly fuelled my passion for the equine industry.”

For more information about EquineErudition visit

New career in the countryside for passionate conservationist Wendy

Reaseheath opened doors to a new career for Wendy Nulty after working for 12 years in the NHS.

Wendy Nulty

Wendy Nulty

With a passion for the outdoors and countryside conservation, Wendy looked to Reaseheath to help take her first steps with a career change by studying our Foundation Degree in Countryside Conservation and Recreation Management.  After just a year on the part time degree programme,  she was chosen to join the National Trust Ranger Academy training scheme, which she pursued alongside the degree.

Combining the academic knowledge and practical experience gained from her degree and the National Trust programme Wendy’s now a fully qualified Ranger, working for the National Trust.

As a Ranger, Wendy coordinates the day to day operational and land management of a number of National Trust properties across Cheshire, spanning Bickerton and Bulkeley Hills. The properties cover just short of 400 acres and contain a mix of woodland and lowland heath habitats. Responsible for a mix of practical estate maintenance, habitat management and visitor engagement, Wendy also manages groups of volunteers for 2-3 days a week. With no two days ever the same, she absolutely loves her job.

During her degree Wendy covered all the components of countryside management studying a wide range of topics from plant identification through to visitor management.

Said Wendy: “The opportunity to make industry links and the support from dedicated staff really helped me get the most out of my degree. I really enjoyed the variety of modules and the field trips helped to inspire us and see the importance of the content of lectures in the ‘real world’ of land management.”

“The flexibility of the course allowed me to work full time whilst studying, which was invaluable as I took the plunge with a career change.”

Wendy’s top tips –  careers in countryside conservation

  1.  If you want to get into conservation, having plenty of volunteering experience is essential. Look at role profiles of the jobs you are interested in and try and find volunteering roles that help you fill the practical or public engagement elements of it. It takes effort and perseverance to get into this sector so be smart about how you spend the little free time you may have.
  2. Whilst you are at college or on work placement remember you are meeting potential future employers or work colleagues so make a positive impression. I always remember the hard workers or those that take an interest in field trips to Bickerton. Likewise I always remember those that don’t make a great impression!
  3. Don’t be afraid to contact people who are already doing the job you are interested in. They can often give you valuable advice that can help shape your career path and tell you what to focus on.

Traditional agriculture – memories of a student

Brian Moore (agriculture student 1948-49) shares his recollections of traditional agriculture at the Cheshire School of Agriculture, Reaseheath

“Before arriving at the Cheshire School of Agriculture as a student in 1948, I had experienced various aspects of farming as a young boy, having been brought up in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.  I spent many school holidays on a cousin’s mixed farm in North Wales, helping with harvesting, potato picking and hand-milking. It was there that I first drove a ‘wartime’ Fordson tractor (on iron wheels*).

Reaseheath Roomates from 'Room 6' 1948-49 Geoff Ralphs, Tom Gorton, John Blackstone, Brian Moore and Jim Watson

Reaseheath Roomates from ‘Room 6’ 1948-49 Geoff Ralphs, Tom Gorton, John Blackstone, Brian Moore and Jim Watson

“At 18 years of age my first memory of Reaseheath was going there with my father to secure my ‘place’ on the 1948-49 course in General Agriculture.  We travelled from Chester on the Crosville bus (local bus company serving Cheshire and North Wales) where we had to alight at Nantwich aqueduct, walk along Welshman’s Lane and on across the Chester Road before finally reaching the entrance of Reaseheath, by the then women’s hostel. As we approached, corn cutting was in progress in the front field and I remember remarking to dad, “Oh look, they have a binder pulled by an orange pre-war standard Fordson” – I felt at home immediately!

I started as a student in 1948, accompanied by approximately 30 other male students (including one or two on poultry or horticulture courses) and around 15 female students.

Reaseheath Ayshire Herd at pasture (1950)

Reaseheath Ayshire Herd at pasture (1950)

“I recall a herd of large white breeding sows, which farrowed outdoors and a large number of store pigs. In those days pigs were fed on whey from the cheesemaking and swill collected daily from local hospitals etc…This had to, by law be boiled before use. The milking herd at Hall Farm consisted of 60 Pedigree Ayrshires housed in two shippons, milked into bucket units. Accompanying them were four work horses carrying out many duties in conjunction with the two tractors on site, a 1938 orange standard Fordson and a red Massey Harris 101 Rowcrop, which probably arrived from the USA on lease-lend during the Second World War. During my second year as a student (1949) a Ferguson T20, known as the ‘the grey fergie’ appeared, complete with much of the Ferguson toolbar equipment.

Brian Moore back at Reaseheath in 2015

Brian Moore back at Reaseheath in 2015

“Most of my lecturers took place in the buildings around the quadrangle, which had originally been a stable yard.

“On the social side of things, we weren’t allowed to leave the premises on weekdays and there was a 10pm curfew on a Saturday night. That being said, there were plenty of social events at Reaseheath, quizzes, table tennis and of course the dances. Students organised weekly dances in the grand Reaseheath Hall, where music streamed from a from a wind-up gramophone, playing ‘78s’.

“We all had the occasional excursion by coach (e.g. Boots Experimental farms at Nottingham, plant breeding stations, creameries of famous pedigree herds and the like).

“After my student days, I stayed at Reaseheath for two more years working with the pedigree Ayrshire herd as assistant herdsman and demonstrator, before joining the Ministry of Agriculture as a land drainage and farm water supplies officer.

“It also was during my time as a Reaseheath student that met my wife, Maureen, who worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Berkley Towers, Crewe. We during a joint trip to Trentham Gardens in 1948. We have been married for 65 years, so that was an added ‘bonus’ of becoming a Cheshire School of Agriculture student.

“Since my time as student Reaseheath has grown beyond recognition, which is fantastic to see. I’m proud to have been a part of its history and will treasure my memories of traditional farming in the 1940s.”

*During the World War Two, due to the shortage of rubber – all tractors where produced with iron wheels.

Engineering graduate rising up ranks of leading UK machinery dealer

Machinery dealership management graduate Chris Osborne is using his degree to help further his career at Finning UK.

Engineering Chris Osborne PROFILE square for webChris completed his Foundation Degree in Machinery Dealership Management alongside working full time for Finning. Having graduated in 2014, he’s now progressed to a managerial role with the company.

As a Product Support Account Manager for Finning UK,  Chris, 25,  is in charge of around 100 accounts in the South East. Keen to progress in his career, Chris seized this opportunity for promotion,  taking the challenging decision to relocate from his home town of Cannock, Staffordshire for the role based in Ashford in Kent.

His role involves building relationships with customers, coordinating  complex machinery repairs and with liaising between manufacturers, dealers and customers. He’s also responsible for generating and growing new business opportunities.

Previously a repair engineer, Chris trained through Finning’s specialist apprentice academy (starting in 2007) where he achieved his Advanced Apprenticeship in Plant Maintenance and Repair. Moving up in the company, he then progressed into an office based condition monitoring role, where he remotely monitored and pre-empted faults with customers’ machines. It was during this time that Finning UK gave Chris the opportunity to study for his Foundation Degree in Machinery Dealership Management with Reaseheath.

Said Chris: “The course was varied and enjoyable.  It gave me the opportunity to make new contacts, build industry links and share best practice with other professionals in the field.”

Chris spent a further two years in a used equipment machine sales position for Finning before starting in his Product Support Account Manager position in late 2015. After only a few months in the role he’s loving the new challenge and is excited to continue to further his career with Finning UK.

Spotlight on Conor Forshaw, FdSc Adventure Sports Management, 2013

Conor Forshaw Adevnture Sports Profile web

Mountain biking enthusiast Conor Forshaw started his career in the outdoor sector at Plas Dol y Moch Outdoor Education Centre after graduating from Reaseheath. Initially joining the organisation on a trainee scheme, he went on to spend a year as a Centre Assistant. Making such a great impression he’s now a permanent member of their activity instructor team.

Conor, 23, graduated from his Foundation Degree in Adventure Sports Management in 2014 having previously completed his Level 3 Certificate in Sport with us. Preparing for industry during his degree Conor spent a month on a work placement at Arthog, a North Wales outdoor centre, where he had the opportunity to assist instructors with all outdoor activities. This was a great opportunity to put the theory learnt in the classroom into practice, giving him the skills and experience to excel in his role at Plas Dol y Moch.

Working as an instructor Conor devises and delivers adventure activity sessions for primary and secondary school groups from across Coventry. Pupils have the chance to have a go at a range of outdoor pursuits from kayaking and canoeing to rock climbing and mountain biking. The groups come to Plas Dol y Moch on residential trips as part of their school year, with activities designed to develop teamwork skills, environmental awareness and general social skills.

Said Conor: “The management knowledge and practical experience I gained during my degree gave me the confidence to forge ahead in my career.”

Ambitious young farmer achieves dairy herd manager role

Owen on his graduation day

Owen Davies on his graduation day

Ambitious young farmer Owen Davies started his career in Australia after completing his Foundation Degree at Reaseheath.

This international job opportunity came about for Owen whilst he was still a student after impressing our then farm manager Mark Yearsley. Mark, who has since moved to a senior dairy operations management post in Australia, approached Owen when looking for an ambitious dairy herd manager – and he jumped at the chance.

Owen, 23, is now working at an impressive 10,000 acre dairy farm two hours drive north of Melbourne which currently has 2,000 high yielding cows but plans to expand to 4,000 cows in the not too distant future. He is spending his first year learning all the aspects of the business, including the care and commercial output of the dairy herd, the breeding  and production of youngstock.

Coming to college with no previous farming background, Owen initially completed his Level 3 Diploma in agriculture with us, which included a full middle year work placement at a dairy unit. He then progressed on to his Foundation Degree in Agriculture, excelling in all areas, Owen achieved an overall distinction.

He says: “I wouldn’t have got this amazing opportunity without being an agriculture student at Reaseheath. Coming to college has been the major factor in getting me to where I am now and where I’m likely to be in the future.”

Entrepreneurial Ashley launches first equine faecal egg counting business in Northern Ireland

BSc (Hons) Equine Science graduate, Ashley Neely, found her niche in the equine market after graduating from Reaseheath by launching the first mobile equine faecal egg counting business in Northern Ireland.Ashley Neely EFEC Nutrition business logo

Ashley’s company, EFEC Nutrition, offers clients on yard faecal egg counts which help diagnose the horses worm burden and advise on how to keep their horses healthy.

Part of running her business Ashley, 22, delivers talks and demonstrations to horse owners and riders on a range of topics including the science of parasitology and general equine nutrition. She’s also had the opportunity to represent EFEC Nutrition at various specialist equestrian shows and events across Northern Ireland, including CAFRE equine technology showcase event

Said Ashley: “Coming to Reaseheath helped me gain knowledge and practical stills to start out in the equine industry. Thanks to support of my lecturer Dawn Gale and her passion for parasitology, I found my gap in Northern Irish market”.

Dawn also runs her own parasitology business alongside lecturing at Reaseheath.

Having begun to build up a good reputation within the industry after only a few months in business, Ashley already has plans to expand!

For more information about EFEC Nutrition visit:

College collaboration could benefit learners, communities and businesses

Reaseheath College and North Shropshire College are exploring the potential benefits of a closer collaboration, it was announced this week.

North Shropshire College

North Shropshire College

Both colleges are specialist land-based institutions, are in a strong phase of continuous growth and improvement and share a long history of delivering quality education.  It is felt that, by working together to combine resources, expertise and reputation, the colleges would secure an even wider and better educational experience for current and future learners.  It is also envisaged that such a collaboration would impact positively on the local economies of both counties by providing enhanced links with industry partners and local communities.

The proposal has been put forward in response to the government’s current area based reviews of post 16 education and training, which are central to its commitment to a move towards fewer and often larger colleges which would be more resilient and efficient in the future.

North Shropshire College is currently taking part in an area review involving all colleges in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It is to ask the Area Review Board to take into consideration its decision to explore closer collaboration with Reaseheath College, which is just over the border in Cheshire. The structure of such a collaboration would be agreed by the governing bodies of both colleges following further exploration.

North Shropshire College Principal Jackie Doodson said: “The governing body has carried out extensive research and appraised its options rigorously. As a result,  it has concluded that a partnership with Reaseheath College would best secure the long term future of high quality land based provision for Shropshire along with high quality vocational education and training for Oswestry and rural North Shropshire.”

Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David commented: “This fantastic opportunity will allow both colleges to move forward and to respond together to the challenges facing the Further Education sector.  Across the country, all colleges are tasked with ‘doing more with less’. We have a more important role than ever in supporting young people, local businesses and those seeking employment.”

Area reviews of post 16 education are being carried out in all regions by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education.

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.”