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    Students honoured for work placement excellence

    Posted 23 May 2008

    Students at Harper Adams University College have been honoured for their outdstanding performance while on industrial work placement.

    The eleven NatWest Awards and Andrew Lewis Trophy finalists had completed sandwich placements at companies across the UK before returning to complete their studies at the Shropshire university college.

    The coveted annual NatWest Placement Awards were presented to three HND Agriculture students by Carl Hankinson, NatWest Regional Agricultural Manager.

    He said “The feedback from the judging panel is that their job is getting harder and harder. They had to make a most difficult decision, the standards were so high. For NatWest, having been involved in these awards for about 20 years, it is encouraging to know standards are increasing at this exciting time for the industry. Well done to all the finalists.”

    Delighted overall NatWest winner Sandy Gray, from Otley, Leeds, Yorkshire, completed his work placement with PV Dobson and Son agricultural and machinery dealers. He was based in the workshop, undertaking repairs, inspection of new machines and refurbishing used machines for sale.

    He said the work placement had been an excellent opportunity to gain life experience and put into practice all he had been taught at Harper Adams. “I would recommend anyone to take a sandwich course,” he said, adding that winning the NatWest prize was a very welcome bonus.

    Sandy, who enjoys mechanics and is an active member of the Young Farmers’ Club, has previously worked on three different farms and gained experience of milking, tractor-based operation and animal husbandry.

    Fellow Yorkshire student Natalie Hodgson was placed second. Natalie, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, spent her placement year at ValeFresh Ltd, based in Evesham, Worcestershire.

    Second runner-up Nicola Butler hails from Preston, Lancashire. Her placement employer was Envirosystems UK Ltd, based in Preston. The company manufactures a range of environmental products and associated firm Greenlands Nutrition Ltd provides nutritional advice to dairy farmers and supplies products such as feeds, minerals and inoculants.

    Other shortlisted students included Richard Jackson, an agriculture with mechanisation student from Bakewell, Derbyshire, who worked at Dales Contractors, Henbury, Cheshire; Ffion Jones, on the same course as Richard, from Gwytherin, Abergele, Conway, who worked with animal feed merchants Merion Davies & Co Ltd; and agriculture student Robert Kirk, from Barkby Leicestershire, who complete his placement at KC and DA Hughes’ dairy farm.

    All short-listed candidates completed a challenging interview that included questioning on their achievements in work placement, future aspirations and their thoughts on and concerns for the industry.

    The judges were; John Downes, a well-known local mixed organic farmer, Robert Nelson, local Natwest Agricultural Manager and Harper Adams University College Principal Professor Wynne Jones.

    Working for a year on an industrial placement is a key component of the courses at Harper Adams. It assists to set Harper Adams’ graduates apart from those from other institutions.

    Matthew Back, Placement Manager for Agriculture, said “The placement year is key for putting into practice what has been learned in the first two years at Harper Adams. It is essential for personal development and returns students to us with a real thirst for knowledge. It is a springboard into the final year and hopefully success in their final exams. To the employers involved, I would like to express our gratitude for the support and encouragement you have given to the students.”

    Also presented on Monday was the Andrew Lewis Trophy, which is awarded to the top student in both practical and written work during the placement year. Five BSc Agriculture and Routes students were nominated and the winner was Peter Sharpley, from Thornhaugh, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, who completed his placement at Produce World, in Peterborough.

    The Andrew Lewis trophy is given in memory of Andrew Lewis, a former student at Harper Adams and was presented by Andrew’s mother Sheila Lewis, who said it was always delightful to return to the university college.

    Runners-up were Duncan Burnett, from Kingsbridge, Devon; Alex Caraffi, from Chilwell, Nottingham, William Gill , from Burgh by Sands, near Carlisle, and George Stanley, from Howsham, Yorkshire.

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