The 25th anniversary of Harper Ireland was celebrated last Friday (February 8) with the club’s annual dinner, where one of the club’s early leaders was the guest speaker.
Annie Coleman is the Livestock Strategy Manager for ABP Ireland and former Head of Agriculture at Sainsbury’s. Her career since leaving Harper Adams in 1997 with a degree in agriculture with land farm management has seen her working across the UK, Ireland and East Africa
During her time as a student, she had a leading role in the founding of the Harper Ireland Club and was the third chairperson. Now the club is one of the largest societies on campus, with more than 140 members.
She said: “Having toured the university today, time has not stood still. There’s been a phenomenal change and growth in Harper Adams since I started in 1993. It continues to be nationally and globally recognised as a centre of excellence in education and the calibre of students graduating from one of the many courses now available.”
Looking back on the creation of Harper Ireland, she said: “There are two people who need to be given credit for the club’s creation and they are Michael McGirr and Sean Quinn.
“They saw the need for an umbrella organisation to bring a broad spectrum of Irish students together; a club with a variety of interests for students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
“Harper Ireland was officially born in 1994 after a meeting in the lecture theatre, led by Michael and Sean, to sound their ideas out and ask people to put up their hands; which is when I became involved.
“The very essence of the club was about being inclusive. Whatever event was staged, everyone was invited which helped integrate the club into the fabric of Harper.
“To this day, I have very fond memories of Harper and this is all down to the people that I met; the friendships that were formed, the acquaintances that were made. Life is all about relationships and this is where Harper excels. The importance placed on people is like no institution I have ever come across, either personally or professionally, and this is why I believe it continues to go from strength to strength.”
Following Annie’s speech, outgoing chairman of Harper Ireland, BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Colin Henry, 20, from Ballymoney said: “It’s great to hear Annie’s fond memories from being in the club during its founding years, it makes us students all appreciate the club a little bit more today for what it is.”
The event also saw two awards handed out to outstanding achievers among Irish Harper students. The Victor Truesdale Award, which honours leadership, teamwork and communication, went to final year BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Shannon McNiece, 21, from County Armagh and the President’s Prize went to BSc (Hons) Agri-Business student John Morrow, 22, from County Tyrone.
Towards the end of the formalities, incoming chairman, BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management student Chris Scurfield, 18, from County Down, gave a brief speech, in which he said: “I’m honoured to be the upcoming chairman and I know this year will be as good as previous ones because I have a strong and helpful committee to help me.
“Harper Ireland has become important to me for my first year living away from home overseas. All of the members are always happy to help and it provides a home away from home.
“The club means a lot to me and I look forward to the year ahead.”