University Centre Sparsholt has been delighted to celebrate the class of 2020 and 2021 in a day of long-awaited Graduation Ceremonies in the awe-inspiring setting of Winchester Cathedral. Graduates, lecturers, family, friends and supporters were able to finally join together and celebrate after postponement due to Covid-19 restrictions. Students were presented with their well-earned degrees and prizes for individual endeavour and academic success as the class of 2020 and 2021 embark on the next stage of their lives. 

Principal Julie Milburn reviewed Sparsholt’s achievements through the year. She said: “The past two academic years have been very successful, despite the restrictions of Covid-19,  I’m delighted to see over 550 qualifications being presented at today’s two ceremonies. Many of our students are already in employment, often hundreds of miles from Winchester and overseas, already excelling in their chosen field of study.  

“I’d like to echo the thanks of the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, the College President, to all those who help and support our work, my wonderful colleagues, highly supportive employers and our prize donors and the University of Portsmouth. I would also like to thank the Governors, and especially our chairman for all the freely given time, effort and advice without which University Centre Sparsholt could not operate.”  

Joining Julie Milburn was Guest of Honour and speaker Dr Mike Short, CBE, Chief Scientific Advisor for International Trade. He commented: “After all the hard work and covid delays we’re finally here! Let me reassure you of the value of study and the studies you all follow, many of which are going to be helpful in saving the planet; there is nothing better than to celebrate your success in animal, environmental and biodiversity subjects. You are in a world now of record vacancies and more in the way of opportunities than ever before and in Sparsholt you have your very own guiding north star.”  

Matthew Rendle RVN, Chairman of the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Council was also present at the ceremony to lead the pledge for new classes of Veterinary Nursing Students, he declared “The title of veterinary nurse is one to be extremely proud of – you will make a positive difference to an animal’s life in every shift you work. In this year celebrating the diamond jubilee of veterinary nursing be the catalyst of the change you want for your profession – anything is possible. Never say you are just a veterinary nurse – you have an incredibly high level of clinical skills. You’re a Registered Veterinary Nurse, be loud and be very proud!” 

Our 2020 Student Votes of Thanks 

After the presentation of awards, BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fishery Management graduate, Ben Leigh and MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training graduates  

Ella Bartlett and Kate Fletcher gave their vote of thanks on behalf of the 2020 students. They used their speeches to thank everyone present for the fantastic support they had received over their time studying:  

Ben Leigh, BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fishery Management graduate  

“I’m sure I can speak on behalf of everyone today to say that we will remember forever the opportunities we have been given to learn and go and become the people we are today. My personal highlights must be the study tours which took us to Scotland and Malta. The incredible experience of swimming with Blue Fin Tuna in Malta is one I’ll never forget. Lecturers always go above and beyond to help us – it goes without saying we wouldn’t be here without you.” 

 Kate Fletcher, MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training graduate 

“Thank you to my family for having faith in me and never giving up on me. My tutors at Sparsholt never doubted me – they inspired me with a love of learning, a hunger for knowledge and self-belief. I also want to thank my fellow graduates – guys we did it! But none of us would be here without our families – thank you!” 

Ella Bartlett, MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training graduate 

“It’s an honour to be speaking today about the key role Sparsholt has played in my life. I never described myself as particularly academic and teachers would always say ‘she would do well if she only applied herself’ but when I finished school, I came to Sparsholt College to complete my Level 3, then progressed onto my undergraduate degree and then postgraduate and although I studied at Sparsholt for six years I would still be there today if I could. I’ve been given so many opportunities, too many to list, such as being one of the first to gather data in the Sir Mark Todd Rider Performance Studio and travelling to Rome to present my research at an international conference. If I told my 16-year-old self I would be doing this today and as a PhD student, I wouldn’t have believed it, but that’s what Sparsholt has done to make me the person I am today. Thank you to everyone here who has supported us along the way – lecturers, friends and family, we couldn’t have done this without you.” 

Our 2021 Student Votes of Thanks 

Representing the 2021 students for the vote of thanks, BSc (Hons) Zoo Biology Graduate, Zoe Phillips and MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training graduate, Sarah Todd spoke regarding the fortitude of the Sparsholt students throughout their studies:  

Zoe Phillips, BSc (Hons) Zoo Biology Graduate 

“Few of us can have imagined, when we started this journey, that we would have the privilege of attending lectures from the comfort of our own bedrooms, in our PJs, thanks to a certain virus. Or that for some of us, the journey would be a little longer than planned. My own personal memory of fortitude was thoroughly enduring the world of research sitting in 4 degrees outside taking on a behavioural study for rhinoceros, instead of putting me off this career showed me the kinds of opportunities I would be able to achieve. 

“At Sparsholt, we have had the greatest privilege to study at an outstanding countryside campus with numerous practical industry level facilities and academic resources. We have been able to gain key skills: nutritional analysis, behavioural data collection, field surveys and much more. We have been able to understand the world of employment we are about to enter first-hand through guest speakers who have strengthened our desire for our various careers. And in years to come, future students will be able to enjoy and thrive in this ever-growing campus, just as we have.”   

Sarah Todd, MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training graduate 

 “On behalf of our graduating cohort of 2021. Thank you to our families, friends and support networks, many keeping us supplied with tasty meals, proof-reading our work – thereby becoming by proxy experts in our subjects.  

“Thank you to the hardworking support staff, the wellbeing teams, the librarians, premises staff, IT, the administrators processing our admissions, funding requests, ID cards and much else besides. Those who kept us fed during the times we were able to be on campus. To all those who work behind the scenes and without whose tireless efforts, day in, day out, none of this would be possible. 

“Thank you too to the leadership team, steering the college through these difficult times. To the University of Portsmouth, our awarding body in collaboration with Sparsholt, for giving us access to many wonderful academic resources and facilities.” 

To close each of the ceremonies HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire and Sparsholt College President, Nigel Atkinson Esq spoke to the Graduates and Guests remarking “The students assembled in Winchester Cathedral today could never have predicted a global pandemic impacting our lives, and their university experience, in the way that it has. These students have demonstrated resilience and strength of character in continuing with their studies, and being highly successful in their degrees, and it is wonderful to be able to celebrate their success with them and their families.”  

Applications are now open to join University Centre Sparsholt in September 2022 for more information or to apply please visit sparsholt.ac.uk/university-centre/  

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