RAU students celebrate graduation in Cirencester town for the first time

RAU students outside Cirencester Church

RAU students outside Cirencester Church - Credit: Archant

The Royal Agricultural University teamed with excited faces on Saturday, October 12, as more than four hundred students graduated from the University at Convocation, the annual degree ceremony.

Joe Henson is presented fellowship by Brian Hilton, Chairman of Governors.

Joe Henson is presented fellowship by Brian Hilton, Chairman of Governors. - Credit: Archant

As the first Convocation since the RAU was awarded full University status earlier in the year, and Cirencester became a ‘university town’, it was fitting that the event was held in the town itself. Cirencester Church provided the perfect backdrop for the traditional ceremony, which was followed by a drinks reception at the University campus.

Graduates were joined by their friends and family, and special guests from the town including the Mayor of Cirencester, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, and the Chairman and Leader of Cotswold District Council.

Four Honorary Fellowships of the Royal Agricultural University were awarded during the service, including one to Gloucestershire resident and founder of the Cotswolds Farm Park, Joe Henson.

Having always had a keen interest in farming, Joe has devoted his life to conservation and the breeding of rare at-risk farm animals. He graduated from the Royal Agricultural College (as it was then) in the Diploma in Agriculture course in 1954, and went on to manage several farms and estates. He developed Bemborough Farm into the UK’s first farm park, the Cotswold Farm Park, became the Founding Chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and was later awarded an MBE for ‘services to conservation’ in 2011.

Principal Guest the Rt Hon the Earl of Selborne addressed students as they prepare to go forth into the world, equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience they have gained at the RAU. He spoke about the value of higher education, and the privilege he felt at being invited to present the degrees, diplomas, awards and honorary fellowships. He wished the new graduates every success for the future, and expressed his pride in the RAU alumni.

In his speech, Principal, Professor Chris Gaskell CBE, spoke about the significance of RAU students celebrating their Convocation in the heart of Cirencester. He congratulated the students on their hard work and fantastic results, and thanked their family and friends for their continued support.

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He talked about the University’s record-high student numbers, and how this reflects society’s growing appreciation of agriculture, land management, and rural development.

Convocation finished on a high with the Graduation and Fresher’s Ball, held in a marque on the historic campus in Cirencester.


Visit the RAU website: www.rau.ac.uk