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Presentation of honorary awards during Thomas Harper Adams bicentenary celebration

Posted 16 May

We've always had a real interest and watched the University expand and develop in so many ways. It’s an amazing achievement.

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Harper Adams University Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, presented three honours during this week’s celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Thomas Harper Adams.

Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser, received an honorary doctorate (DSc) In recognition of her significant contribution to international business, particularly the development of new markets for agricultural machinery and technologies.

She said the honour had come as a surprise but she was delighted to accept it. “I thought it was wonderful thing for the CLAAS Company because I perceive it as being a teamwork achievement not something that I did personally and I think we can be very proud and very happy.” Making the occasion all the more special, Mrs Claas-Mühlhäuser’s 92-year-old father Helmut Claas travelled to Shropshire for the honorary degree presentation.

Mrs Claas-Mühlhäuser explained that being a farmer alongside leading the company her grandfather and his brothers founded in 1913, keeps her in touch with the industry. “It keeps me really grounded in a world that sometimes seems more detached than in former times. It is important for us to stay grounded and to really see things as they are.

“Agriculture is a very rewarding industry, in all aspects, doesn’t matter whether you’re farmer you’re a trader, you’re into agricultural engineering or not. It about honest people; values that you might seek everywhere and you will find those more often than not in the agricultural industry. I think that’s good, the people that make the difference.”

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

He said: “It is a very great honour to be given an honorary degree by Harper Adams. I’ve long been associated with the university; it is the premier university in Shropshire.

"With Shropshire being a predominantly agricultural county, to have the very best agricultural university in our county is a double bonus. With your Chancellor, The Princess Royal coming, it is a great treat once again. It is always wonderful to see her. She is always so interested and usually well informed it gives everybody associated with the university a real boost.”

Sir Algernon explained that he first became involved with the university his own farm needed advice on potato growing and one of the professors supported him for 15 years, to great benefit. 

“From there we have always had a real interest and watched the University expand and develop in so many ways. It’s an amazing achievement.”

Alison Blackburn, former University governor and an agricultural advisor throughout her career, received a University Fellowship.

She said: “It’s a fantastic honour. When I opened the letter I couldn’t believe it. I thought ‘gosh, I left Harper a while ago!’.

“But I still love it and I come back for every possible event I can. There is just something wonderful and inspirational bout Harper that one wants to wish the best for it all the time. My time working with the university gave me a completely new life, a joie de vivre, a positiveness. Always looking forward to what we could do. This is really a place where you can achieve something; you can make something of yourself. It’s very positive.”

Not resting on her laurels, Alison is Chairman of the Alde and Ore Association. She explains: “I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure that the river defences of the Alde and Ore river stay in the same condition as our ancestors made them several hundred years ago  so that we can keep enjoying the estuary and the local economy and the agriculture and general environment and wildlife.”

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