Interview with 94th New Forest Show President Tim Jackson


- Credit: Archant

Tim Jackson, Principal of Sparsholt College, has been elected 94th President of the New Forest Show

How does one become President?

I was honoured to be asked to do this by the New Forest Show Society. This is a position which is by invitation. You would have to ask the Show Society why they invited me, but I imagine that it’s my association with Sparsholt College and Food and Farming within Hampshire since 1986, together with the role that the College plays in the life of the county.

What does it mean to be President of a show with such a strong sense of tradition?

The College moved to its current home near the village of Sparsholt in 1914, although it actually commenced in 1899. Together with the New Forest Show, which began in 1921, both have this amazingly long history. The use of the countryside by society has changed dramatically, especially in the lifetime of the College and The New Forest Show.

Changes in selection and breeding of animals and plants together with the incredible advances in mechanisation have seen the production of food dramatically increase, providing challenges to biodiversity and landscape.

What is new and exciting at Sparsholt?

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The College celebrates its centenary at Sparsholt this year, and we are also launching two new Masters degrees (MSc) in Applied Aquaculture and Sports Fisheries and Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training.

Our work with the British and Irish Zoo and Aquarium Association to train ‘in service’ zookeepers has already moved to the Gulf States Zoos, and we are in close dialogue with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens to do the same in China.

Our new Mechanisation Building and Workshops are heralding an increased offer in Agricultural Mechanisation, which is seeing a big upsurge in interest from employers. The College is also developing a range of sustainable energy technologies based on wood and other renewable resources, which I strongly believe will be a very significant curriculum area for the future.

How do you ensure students have a link with future employers?

The curriculum of the College is designed to launch young people and career changers into their chosen professions as well as providing courses for those who are in employment but want to up-skill.

We use a series of qualifications that are designed by employers and our students to develop their knowledge and understanding in occupationally specific skills. The majority of these skills are practised in realistic working environments at the College with specialist staff, while work experience programmes and apprenticeships build relationships with employers early on.

What is your background?

I trained as an Applied Biologist and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food before taking up teaching. The range of career opportunities which I have been associated with during my career has given me plenty of scope for my interests, and I’m really proud to be associated with what has been achieved at this College.

Why is it important to educate people in Hampshire about food production and the environment?

Less than 2% of the UK population have any direct contact with farming, although all of us have a very direct contact with food. It is absolutely vital that young people develop a real understanding of what is involved in producing food, and where it comes from.

Another important aspect of the New Forest Show is of course, the management of our countryside in terms of biodiversity, conservation and recreation.

I am delighted that my chosen charity this year, Hampshire Country Learning, is very much involved in doing this all year round with many different school groups and with help and support from local farmers and estate owners.


Tim Jackson’s Favourites

Favourite Hampshire restaurant (see more top Hampshire restaurants here): Impossible to choose but I like The Plough at Sparsholt, The Three Cups at Stockbridge, Bangkok Brasserie in Winchester and La Parisienne in Romsey.

Favourite Hampshire walk: I like to take my rough terrain bicycle out every week and am often to be found on the Test Way.

Favourite place to stay: My wife and I like to get away whenever I can find time to do so and inevitably, that takes us outside Hampshire to country hotels all over the counties of southern England.

Best place for tea and cake: I really would hesitate to pick a best place, because there are so many. I have had wonderful tea and cake in places throughout the county, depending on where I’ve been walking and visiting.

Favourite place for a glass of wine: If it’s just a glass of wine, my living room is definitely my venue of choice.