Sparsholt College became the picturesque setting for a heart-warming reunion of two Sparsholt alumni. Denzil Bury, known as Jock, got in touch with the BBC’s The One Show in the hope of tracking down fellow Sparsholt student, Joyce Scantlebury, to take a trip down memory lane and catch up on their lives since they last saw each other at the Hampshire College and University in 1954. The One Show Researcher Cat Whiteaway put in the detective work and succeeded in tracking down Joyce –then enlisting the help of Jock’s daughter Clare and Joyce’s daughter Alison to get the two of them back to Sparsholt on a beautiful day on campus in early September.
They had initially met at Sparsholt College, Jock studying Agriculture and Joyce studying Horticulture but they lost touch when Jock moved on to further study and they went their separate ways building careers and families.
Unbeknownst to Jock, Joyce had already arrived and was filming at the college’s Equine Centre by the time he and his daughter Clare got to the college. Appropriately, filming took place in and around the college’s Horticulture Department, in its orchard, with its Plant Heritage National Collection of apples. The Gardeners’ Question Time Garden Potting Shed came in handy as a hiding place for Joyce prior to ‘the big reveal’ when the pair met again over a delicious cream tea prepared by the college’s caterers.
Over a day of filming Jock and Joyce had been kept apart as they toured different parts of the campus recounting how the site had changed since they were students. Joyce was accompanied by her daughter Alison and her son-in-law Derek, when asked how she felt when she was asked to return to Sparsholt and see Jock again she said: “I was very surprised, but I thought it was marvellous! The campus was a lot smaller when I was here and whenever I wanted to go somewhere I had to use my bike or Jock would drive in his car. I remember they used to grow a lot of beetroot here because we would always have beetroot in white sauce for dinner.”
Much has also changed at Sparsholt in the 65 years since the friends had left Sparsholt, their return to Sparsholt highlighted how the college has developed over time – investing in new facilities to enhance students’ learning opportunities and now a University Centre rated Gold on the Teaching Excellence Framework and offering degrees up to postgraduate level.
Since the 1950s plentiful transport routes have made Sparsholt much more accessible, more produce is grown at Sparsholt and there are now many more refreshment options available such as Starbucks, Costa, and Bytes the on-site café. The college also boasts cutting edge technology and equipment in all its Faculties having added specialisms in Animal & Zoo Management, Conservation, Fishery Studies, Sports & Outdoor Education, Equine Studies, Arboriculture and Game & Wildlife Management.
It was an emotional reunion when presenter Angellica Bell revealed to Jock that Joyce had been on campus, out of sight, all day. Just before ‘the big reveal’, Jock was asked how he felt about returning to Sparsholt after so long, he said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here today! It’s so different and so big! It was lovely returning to see the incredible expansion and progress the College has made over the years, the students are very fortunate today, there is so much choice.”