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Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to be celebrated with Harper student Sam’s bespoke beacon

Posted 1 June

It’s been a real honour to be involved with the project. We had looked at commercially available beacons – but we knew we wanted something special."

Sam with his Beacon in place ready for the lighting

An engineer at Harper Adams University has taken on a unique challenge to design a custom-made beacon which will be lit to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Sam Scales, from Prees in Shropshire, has worked with fellow members of the Harper Adams Engineering society, the Harper Adams Engineering and Estates teams, and more to help ready the beacon, which will be lit at a private ceremony on high ground in the Chetwynd Deer Park in Newport tomorrow (Thursday, June 2.)

The beacon is one of more than 2,022 being lit across the UK and beyond in recognition of Her Majesty The Queen’s long and selfless service.  

Sam, who worked on designing and building it alongside his final year MEng Automotive Engineering studies, said: “It’s been a real honour to be involved with the project.

“We had looked at commercially available beacons – but we knew we wanted something special.

“Parmjit, Harper’s Head of Engineering, asked me along to the committee meeting to discuss things and I brought out a very rough model of my plans– I said ‘we’re Harper Adams, we either do it right or not at all!'

“I strongly believe in the Monarchy and the Queen so it had to be done correctly.”

After several months’ work, a finalised design which includes a crown and an etched version of the Harper Adams University coat of arms was agreed, produced and tested – and is now set to take pride of place at this week’s celebrations.

Having secured both a Douglas Bomford Trust Scholarship and the Harper Adams Club Postgraduate Scholarship during his time at Harper, Sam said he wanted to show his gratitude for the support he has been shown during his time at the University through the project.

He added: “One of the good things about Harper Adams as University is it instills that sense of community spirit and giving back – I have been lucky enough to have been awarded those two scholarships while I have been here, and through using the contacts I have made here, I have been able to get young engineers out to manufacturers to see what life after university might be like.

“It’s also led to other opportunities I believe wouldn’t have happened elsewhere – I am involved with the Institution of Agricultural Engineers and I am on a Royal Academy committee – and I truly believe if I hadn’t have been at Harper Adams, I wouldn’t have made it as far, I’d have gone back to my old job.”

Coming to Harper Adams from a vocational route, Sam decided to visit an Open Day at the University on a day off from work – and having spoken with lecturers about the kind of work he was interested in, was advised to take up his Automotive Engineering degree.

He added: “It’s been an eye-opening experience into being what an engineer actually is – the conversations around topics, not necessarily in the lecture hall itself, but with the lecturers afterwards, have been really thought-provoking.

“They teach you how to be an engineer, rather than just ‘engineering’ – how to be worthwhile from the start to any employer. As a dyslexic student from a vocational background, it’s somewhere I could thrive.”

Harper Adams Head of Engineering, Parmjit Chima, has worked closely with Sam on the Beacon project since its inception.

He said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Sam and indeed other students from the newly formed Harper Engineering Society on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon Project.

“The concept came from Sam, who wanted a real-life challenge to design, simulate and manufacture as an extra-curricular activity for the Engineering society.

“Sam has taken the lead role, managing every aspect of the project from start to finish, and indeed getting involved with all aspects of design, fabrication and assembly of the beacon.

“Although the project looked like a fairly straight-forward task, there were many challenges the team had to overcome such as the procurement of certain materials, ignition system for lighting the beacon and indeed the laser cutting of the burner unit façade just to name a few.

“All the work for the beacon was done concurrently whilst Sam continued with his demanding studies as a final year MEng Automotive Engineering student.

“Well done to Sam and the Engineering Society on making such an impressive Beacon - that will light up the sky for miles around to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in the very near future.”

And Sam added: “I will be happy when I see everyone else smiling – that’s what I will get out of this.

“As with all projects, when you are leading it, you are in it and don’t see it how other people do – so it will be that point where everyone sees it that I’ll be happy!”

To watch the Beacon lighting ceremony for yourself, please visit the dedicated event landing page here.

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