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    ‘Challenge the Norm - to deliver a better future’ students urged at Harper Ireland dinner

    Posted 21 March

    Harper Alumnus Jonathan Speers, outgoing Harper Ireland Chairman Anthony Donnelly,and Professor Ken Sloan at the dinner.

    Harper Alumnus Jonathan Speers, outgoing Harper Ireland Chairman Anthony Donnelly, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan at the dinner.

    ‘Challenge the Norm - to deliver a better future’ was the inspirational message given to students at this year’s Harper Ireland dinner.

    The dinner – an annual event in the Harper Adams calendar - was addressed this year by Harper Alumnus Jonathan Speers, a Director at Dalcour Maclaren.

    Originating from his family farm in Killylea, Co. Armagh, Jonathan came to Harper Adams in 2003 to study Rural Enterprise and Land Management.  On graduation, he took up roles in rural practice, joining Dalcour Maclaren in 2019 as an Associate moving through the business before completing the Director programme in 2021.

    He told students: “My work takes me all over the UK and Ireland  and I have been fortunate to end up in a job I love, surrounded by great people and work I find fascinating. Our business provides land and environmental consultancy services across the water, transport, telecommunication and the power industry.”

    Jonathan detailed several projects Dalcour Maclaren are working on, in particular in the renewable energy sector.  These projects are not only supporting the drive to net zero, but also the demand for energy which is globally set to double in the next two decades.

    Speaking to the students, Jonathan highlighted that this is a growing sector where they could really develop their career. Proof of this is that every year, the Dalcour Maclaren Academy recruit more than 50 graduates and apprentices - and they are then supported through their development programmes.

    Reflecting on the changes which have happened on the Harper campus since he was a student, Jonathan added: “On the tour of the campus today, I expected to see change, but the extent of innovation I was not prepared for.

    “The Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre is something very special. I am sure you won’t, but I would just say: ‘please, don’t take it for granted.’  What is being developed and discussed is bang on for industry present and future. It’s certainly where our head is at as a business."

    And he added: “At Dalcour Maclaren we exist to 'Challenge the Norm to deliver a better future.’

    “Harper Adams, on the flag outside the main building and on the side of the student union building, says: ‘Together we will make the difference’ – we are going to change the world!”

    “Encouraging and fostering this innovation requires a collaborative effort.

    “At Dalcour Maclaren, we pride ourselves in our #OneTeam approach.

    “This is something I immediately felt when speaking with the students I have met today, and again from Professor Sloan, with his primary objective of maintaining Harper Adams as a leading and independent university.”

    In conclusion, Jonathan reminded the students that they – and every employee of Harper Adams – are the reason the University exists and is making a difference.

    He added: “No organisation with a soul is anything without its people, and Harper Adams has the best people in the world.

    “It is people that Challenge the Norm - and innovation that enables the progress.”

    In the awards following the dinner, BSc (Hons) Agri-food Marketing with Business student Craig Humes, from Eniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, was presented with the President’s Prize by Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan in his capacity 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 award was presented to BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Allister Crawford, from Augher, Co. Tyrone, who will serve as 2024 Chairman.

    Outgoing Chairman, BEng (Hons) Agricultural Engineering student Anthony Donnelly, 20, from Ballynahinch, Co. Down, said: "I wanted to make new club members feel welcome and have a ‘home away from home’ - the Club had big impact on me when I joined Harper.

    “It’s been an honour and a great experience to have been at the forefront of such an established club at Harper Adams.

    “I’ve enjoyed my time; however, I am confident in Allister and the new committee to continue to support and build the club and grow strength to strength.

    “I am optimistic for what the future holds for the club. There is no question the club is in safe hands with the new committee, whom I trust to build on the foundations that have been set in previous years and make Harper Ireland achieve its full potential.

    “I will stay involved with the club - and be a passionate member for years to come."

    BSc (Hons) Food Technology student Grace Brown, from Co. Down, was presented with the John Thompson & Sons Victor Truesdale Prize by Nevin Truesdale.

    The prize is awarded annually in memory of Victor Truesdale, former sales director of John Thompson & Sons Ltd, who passed away in 2001.

    It honours the student from Ireland deemed to have made the greatest contribution to life at Harper Adams University and includes a specially-commissioned crystal punch bowl and a cheque.

    She said: “I have to say it really is an honour, and I am very grateful to the Development Trust and John Thompson & Sons to have selected me as the 2024 recipient for such a prestigious award.”

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