The achievements of hundreds of Hartpury students were celebrated at the college’s annual Further Education Prize Day yesterday.
They were joined by parents, Hartpury staff and governors and VIP guests for the ceremony, with those students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their area being awarded trophies and prizes.
Former Hartpury equine student and Paralympian, Mel Nicholls, gave an inspirational speech as the guest of honour at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies.
Mel - a Great Britain wheelchair racer in the T34 category who is the current 1500m world record holder - is Hartpury College’s Sport Ambassador. Mel also won 800m silver and 100m bronze medals in the European Championships and is the fastest T34 female athlete over 5000m, 10k and half marathon distances.
The winner of the Glos NFU Perpetual Trophy for the Top Student of the Year was Dan Peacock, 19, who has just completed his BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport (Fitness).
Dan, who also won the Hartpury College Fitness Award for outstanding commitment to Fitness Studies, has recently been offered a full-time internship with Gloucester Rugby’s Strength and Conditioning team for the 2015-16 season. The role will enable him to continue his university level studies at Hartpury while gaining valuable hands-on experience in a professional rugby club environment.
He said: “I’ve learned so much during my two years at Hartpury and feel like my course has given me the skills, knowledge and experience I need to go on to a great career. I’m particularly grateful to Frazer (McArdell, Lecturer in Fitness and Sport Science) for all the support he has given me and for recommending me for the internship at Gloucester Rugby.
“I’ve been working there on a part-time basis during my college course and it has given me invaluable experience of working with a top level professional rugby club. I’m looking forward to getting even more involved next season and to continuing to expand my knowledge and experience on the Strength and Conditioning Degree at Hartpury.”
Megan Lawrence, 20, a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture, won the Ben Ford Memorial Salver for the Best Work Experience student within Agriculture, Farm Mechanisation, Countryside and Game.
She achieved a triple distinction in her BTEC and, as part of her course, drew up an imaginative proposal to develop Hartpury’s new Okle Clifford Farm unit into an on-farm butchery specialising in rare breed sheep. She gave the student vote of thanks speech at the morning ceremony.
She said: “I never quite new what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be until I came to Hartpury. My course and placement have nurtured my interest in farming, built my confidence and given me a drive to teach people about the source of our food!
"Hartpury has helped me grow from a girl that loved sheep to a young woman that has further knowledge of general agriculture and a passion for outdoor life. I’d love to go on to be a lecturer teaching a course like the one I’ve just completed!
“Hartpury will always have a piece of my heart and the thought of coming back here one day to start a career fills me with excitement! I’m so grateful to all the staff for their support, particularly Janatha Stout (Head of Agriculture). She has really helped me find myself and fuelled my determination to achieve.”
Megan will now spend three months experiencing farming in New Zealand before continuing on to study agriculture at higher education level.
England Under-18s and Hartpury fly-half Mathew Protheroe, who recently signed a full-time contract with Gloucester Rugby, was the winner of the Ian Waterhouse Cup for the Sports Person of the Year and of the Bob Osbourne Trophy for the Rugby Academy Player of the Year.
Mat played a starring role as Hartpury Under-18s clinched their sixth successive RFU AASE National Colleges Championship this season and scored some scorching tries in helping Hartpury RFC secure a fifth placed finish in their first season in National League One. He also put in a man of the match performance on his England Under-18s debut.
He said: “It’s really hard to put into words everything that Hartpury is. It’s not only somewhere you develop your sport and your education, it’s a life experience that develops you as a person.
“When you find yourself living away from home for the first time at the age of 16, it could be really tough but the support you get from all of the staff at Hartpury is outstanding. Without that support behind me, I don’t think I would have got to where I am today.
“For any young athlete looking to make it in professional sport alongside developing academically, I would say come to Hartpury and give it 100%. It will give you so many opportunities.
“I’m really looking forward to the next stage in my journey now. I’ll be starting at the bottom rung of the ladder again at Gloucester but it will be amazing learning from players who are British Lions like Richard Hibbard and James Hook in a professional environment. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to show what I can do.”
Hartpury Principal, Russell Marchant, said: “It is always such a privilege to be able to share in our students’ successes and join parents, guests and staff in congratulating them for their hard work and achievements on this very special day.
“At Hartpury, students get all the support and care they need as individuals to achieve their academic potential and develop as people. Many of them will now progress to university study while others will be taking their first steps on the path to a dream career. Whatever path they choose, they carry the Hartpury name with them and we are proud they continue to have a major stake in our success.
“It is always fantastic to welcome Mel Nicholls, as a former student and Hartpury’s Sports Ambassador, back to the college and I would like to thank her for being our special guest today. She is a shining example to our students of how far hard work, dedication and talent can get you and we wish her every success as she continues her preparations for Rio 2016.”
All of the photos taken at the Prize Day ceremony are now available at http://npcimages.co.uk/shop
The overall Hartpury College prize winners were:
Mike Davis - Frontier Print and Design Award for the top Modern Apprenticeship Student
Alexandra Mason - Ensor Cup for the Top Diploma Land-based Student
Claud Baker - HSBC Agricultural Shield for Top Management Student.
Jasmine Kilpatrick - Scott Allen Shield for the Best Assignment
Will Greenway - Penfold Trophy for the student who has demonstrated outstanding effort
Dan Peacock - Glos NFU Perpetual Trophy for the top student of the year
Sam Ivins - winner of the Clive Hall Memorial Shield for the student who has demonstrated great endeavour
Will Biggs - Malcolm Wharton Trophy for the best academic performance by an Academy student
Mat Protheroe - winner of the Ian Waterhouse Cup for the Sports Person of the Year and the Bob Osbourne Trophy for the Rugby Academy Player of the Year