BE ambitious, never doubt your abilities, spread your wings and make the most of all opportunities presented to you – those were the key messages from four industry leaders presented with honorary degrees by Harper Adams University at Graduation 2019.
Devenish Group Executive Chairman Owen Brennan OBE was the first to be honoured at the morning ceremony.
“Be ambitious,” was his advice to the graduands he went on to congratulate individually as they crossed the stage. “I think people should all be very ambitious and take really seriously what it is they can do and be ever more open to all of the new experiences that will inevitably come their way.”
He added: “Receiving an honorary degree makes me feel more part of Harper Adams. I already felt part of the university but this formalised it in a way I was not expecting. I was surprised but am very proud.”
The afternoon ceremony welcomed three honorary degree recipients.
Among them was ‘Queen of the Plough’ Anna-May McHugh, honoured for her life-long work for the Irish National Ploughing Association (NPA) during which she has been instrumental in growing the annual National Ploughing Championships into Europe’s largest outdoor agricultural trade exhibition.
Mrs McHugh’s advice to the graduates was: “Be very positive and never doubt your own ability. If they have graduated they have studied hard here and studied before they came here so they should look forward. There are plenty of opportunities for people who have been educated.
“Whatever direction you go in, convince yourself that you are able to do it … that’s what I did when I took up the position of secretary of our Irish Ploughing Association. I said ‘I will keep going, I’ll keep adding new attractions’ and I did. And later I became the managing director.”
Other recipients of honorary degrees were David Fursdon, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, and Professor Han Luija, Dean of the College of Engineering at China Agricultural University.