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    Welcome and embrace change and opportunity, students told at 2023 Harper Ireland Club dinner

    Posted 22 February 2023

    “Above all, have the confidence to meet the challenges of change – after all, you are a Harper Adams graduate!"

    Guest speaker Liam De Paor, third from left, and Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, second from right, with the current Harper Ireland Club committee.

    Guest speaker Liam De Paor, third from left, and Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, second from right, with the current Harper Ireland Club committee.

    ‘Welcome and embrace change – and the opportunities it can bring you.'

    Those were the words of advice for Harper Adams students from Liam De Paor, the after-dinner speaker at this year’s Harper Ireland Club dinner, which took place on Friday (February 17.)

    Mr De Paor is the Director of the De Paor Agri Business and marketing consultancy in Co. Cavan and an Honorary Member of the Harper Ireland Club.

    He shared stories and wisdom from the 25 years of the consultancy and beyond with the students, alumni, family and friends gathered at the dinner, and emphasised how the students needed to start driving change right away.

    He told them: “The world population continues to grow and as the standard of living improves families in Africa, Asia and the Middle East can afford to consume more dairy products and eat more of our grass-fed meat.

    “By 2050, food production will have to increase by 50% to feed the growing world population and to improve the health of the undernourished people in the third world. Indeed, the world’s population is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050.

    “In this context what are you students going to do about it? You have only 25 years to meet that challenge and achieve that goal once you graduate. That is only about halfway through your working life.

    “So you guys have to get cracking and get moving quickly!"

    Despite this challenge, Mr De Paor added that he believed that food and agribusiness graduates from Harper Adams had sustainable careers in front of them, and recalled how, in a similar after-dinner speech, he had heard David Brown, President of the Ulster Farmers Union, highlight how food security is growing as an issue.

    And, Mr De Paor added: "The good news for you students is that farmers and Ag graduates have a bright long-term future. More people will need more food and as the standard of living improves worldwide, they can afford to pay for dairy products and meat.

    "The volume and value of food produced is increasing steadily and there are more and more employment Agribusiness opportunities off-farm."

    Summing up, he added: “Above all, have the confidence to meet the challenges of change – after all, you are a Harper Adams graduate!

    "My warm good wishes to you for a successful and satisfying career."

    Mr De Paor was part of a part of invited guests who were given a tour of the Harper Adams campus and facilities before the dinner, and speaking afterwards he added: "We were very impressed with the commercial farm and agri research work at Harper Adams.

    "For example, the sow unit is producing more than 34 weaners /sow per annum, which is a world-class performance."

    The annual dinner, at The Hundred House hotel in Norton, also included the 2023 prize-giving ceremony.

    This saw BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science student Robyn McConnell, 21, from Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, presented with the President’s Prize by Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, in his role as President of the Harper Ireland student society.

    The prize is awarded each year in recognition of students that have given their all to Harper Adams, Harper Ireland and the student community.

    The Vice President's Cup was also presented at the dinner to BEng (Hons) Agricultural Engineering student Anthony Donnelly, 19, from Ballynahinch, Co. Down, who will serve as 2023 Chairman.

    Outgoing Chairman Joseph Compton, 20, a BSc (Hons) Agriculture  student, from, Glarryford, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, added: "I've loved every single second.

    "I wanted to make club members feel at home, without being at home, as the Club was very important to me when I first joined Harper.

    "It has been a truly rewarding experience and I have got a lot of fulfilment out of seeing people enjoying themselves throughout the year. I am confident that Anthony and the new committee will continue to build on the club's legacy and take it to new heights.

    "Passing on the baton is bittersweet, but I am excited to see what the future holds for the Harper Ireland Club. I have no doubt that the incoming committee will continue to nurture and grow the club, and I look forward to staying involved as a proud member."

    BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Stephen Evans, 21, from Fintona, Co. Tyrone, was presented with the John Thompson & Sons Victor Truesdale Prize by Edwin Truesdale.

    The prize, awarded in memory of Victor Truesdale, former sales director of John Thompson & Sons Ltd, who passed away in 2001, includes a specially commissioned crystal punch bowl and a cheque.

    The prize honours the student from Ireland deemed to have made the greatest contribution to life at Harper Adams University.

    Stephen said: "To receive the Victor Truesdale Award is an honour and one that displays the important contribution that both Harper Adams in Ireland and the Harper Adams Development Trust plays to students at Harper Adams.

    "I would like to thank the trustees of the committee and Thompson Feeds Ltd for presenting me the award and I hope that I serve the late Victor Truesdale proud in my efforts as I continue to demonstrate the key values of Leadership, team-building and effective communication skills in UK agriculture."

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