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Three honours to be presented during Royal celebration for Harper Adams University

Posted 23 April 2018

Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy and Alison Blackburn are to receive honours on May 2.


Harper Adams University is preparing to award two honorary degrees and a university fellowship when its Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, visits in May.

The awards will be conferred at a special celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of the University’s founding benefactor, Thomas Harper Adams.

Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and Deputy Chairwoman of the CLAAS Group Shareholders' Committee, is to receive an honorary doctorate (DSc) In recognition of her significant contribution to international business, particularly the development of new markets for agricultural machinery and technologies.

Algernon Heber-Percy, Lord Lieutenant for Shropshire, will be awarded an honorary doctorate (DLitt) in recognition of his significant contribution to the life of the county of Shropshire.

And Alison Blackburn OBE will receive a Harper Adams Fellowship in recognition of her service to the University.

The awards will be conferred during a celebration at St Nicholas Church, Newport on May 2.

Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser

After training to become an industrial business management assistant, Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser studied business administration at the Swiss University of St. Gallen. After completing her MBA, she worked in both Switzerland and Chile for the multinational corporation ABB, a producer of automation and energy technology. Claas-Mühlhäuser has been the Deputy Chair of the CLAAS Shareholders' Committee since 2004; since 2010, she has also occupied the role of Chair of the Supervisory Board at CLAAS KGaA mbH.

Her external roles include a seat on the Supervisory Board of KWS Saat AG, which she has held since December 2007 and the advisory council of Commerzbank AG since 2008. Mrs Claas-Mühlhäuser is also a member of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft), as well as being a member of the Board of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (Asia-Pazifik Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft).


CLAAS is a family business founded in 1913 and is one of the world's leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery. The company, with corporate headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany, is the European market leader in combine harvesters. CLAAS is also a world leader in self-propelled forage harvesters and is a top performer in agricultural technology worldwide, with its tractors, agricultural balers and grassland harvesting machinery. The product portfolio includes state-of-the-art agricultural information technology. CLAAS employs around 11,000 people worldwide and reported a turnover of €3.7 billion in the 2017 financial year.

Sir Algernon Heber-Percy

Sir Algernon Heber-Percy was a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards from 1962 to 1966, serving in England and in the former British Guiana, South America. He was Honorary Colonel to the Fifth Battalion Shropshire & Herefordshire Light Infantry in 1998-1999 and Honorary Colonel to the West Midlands Regiment 1999-2005.

His career since leaving the Army has primarily been taken up by farming estate activities at his home in North Shropshire, and the administration of Hodnet Hall Gardens, which are regularly open to the public.

From these interests stemmed his roles as executive member of the Council of the National Trust, and Chairman of the Mercia region, which included Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire. He was one of the three trustees of the National Garden Scheme, raising funds for charities through encouraging private owners to open their gardens for the charity. He has an interest in raising awareness and opportunities for those with disabilities within the County, and for many years served as Chairman of The Lyneal Trust for canal holidays originally set up in the 1980s.

Sir Alergernon is currently president of the Severn Hospice charity. He has been a Fellow of Woodward Schools and a Governor of Shrewsbury School 2004-2014.

His official appointments have included High Sheriff of Shropshire (1987), The Vice Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire in 1990 and from 1996 Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Shropshire. This role has included the promotion of the county in many forms, but particularly in promoting voluntary service, the Armed Forces stationed within the county, the appointment of magistrates and the encouragement and attraction of new businesses within the county.


Alison Blackburn
Alison served in the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food for 32 years. She also served in the European Secretariat of the Cabinet Office for two years. Her work includes heading divisions concerned with manpower, organising the Ministry’s structure and people resources, international fisheries, crops other than cereals, and agricultural resources and better regulation.

After leaving MAFF in 2000, but returning in 2001 for a six month spell to help with Foot and Mouth crisis where she headed the Serology Division, she took up a number of Trustee and Governor positions in organisations concerned with agricultural education, training and research.

While still at MAFF, Alison was appointed as a governor in December 1997 to the Board of Governors of Harper Adams. She became Vice Chairman in 2005 and was then Chairman of the Board from November 2007 until November 2011.

During her time at Harper Adams Alison was also a member of several governance working groups in the higher education sector. She was Trustee of Lantra, the sector skills council for land based industries from 2002 until 2013, and a Director of the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB) for eight years from 2003-2011.

Alison joined the Executive Board of the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust in 2007. She is now one of the editors of scholars’ reports. In 2011 she was awarded an OBE for services to agricultural higher education. She was made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies in 2010 and made a Fellow in 2015.

Since retiring from several trustee posts, Alison has played a significant role as a volunteer, in the flood defence plans for the Alde and Ore Estuary in Suffolk. Alison is a member of a new type of organisation involving volunteers from the community working alongside government bodies including the Environment Agency and Natural England as well as the District and County Councils. She is also Chairman of the Alde and Ore Association, a CIO with some 1,700 members.

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