High fives from the High Sheriff

15 September, 2023 1:13 pm

Our students have been rubbing shoulders with a high profile guest who once stood in their shoes – the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire.

It has been decades since Clare Granger was last at the campus as a student of fine art, but lots of happy memories came flooding back when she visited on Monday 11 September.

The High Sheriff discussed our sustainability work, our commitment to delivering an employer-led curriculum, and the plans for our new £20 million building with Principal Danny Wild.

She also enjoyed looking around our creative facilities, including textiles, painting, photography, ceramics, printing and media makeup, during a whistle-stop tour.

She said: “How exciting to be back here after quite a few years – I was here probably during the nineties!”

Creativity and wellbeing

Ms Granger was intrigued to hear about MA Creative Practice graduate Hannah Alderson, who is now exploring how working with clay can help reduce mental health conditions like anxiety.

MA Creative Practice Programme Manager, Dr Annabel Smith, told the High Sheriff: “Hannah noticed, when she started to work with clay, how it immediately helped her own anxiety and wanted to find out more.

“She’s now taken research into that further and is working with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists with a view to starting a PhD: all while keeping a busy home life going.”

Ms Granger said: “Part of the theme of my High Sheriff year is exactly what Hannah’s doing, exploring the links between creativity and wellbeing.”

Technical training, including in green skills such as sustainable energy, low carbon construction, retrofit and electric vehicle maintenance, is at the core of what we do.

So the High Sheriff was also shown around the campus’s construction yard, where she viewed a model passivhaus building – created using ultra-efficient energy use standards – and the bricklaying and solar panels areas.

Lecturer Denise Cain, meanwhile, explained how the hair and beauty salons were producing skilled hairdressers, while Hospitality Programme Manager, Jason Parry, led a tour of the training kitchens.

Praise for our focus on technical skills

Reflecting on her visit, Ms Granger was full of praise for projects including the Harrogate College Employers’ Network.

She said: “What a wonderful initiative to find out what skills the businesses are predominantly looking for and to train the students accordingly. It sounds simple but so often we seem to struggle to provide the skilled workforce that is required. 

”I enjoyed seeing and hearing all about the various courses offered and it was so good to hear of the response by the college to sustainability.”

Referring to the new building, she added: “It certainly sounds as though that will be tremendously exciting. I shall certainly look forward to seeing it when it is complete.”

Danny said: “It was a real pleasure to welcome Clare, both as the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and a very successful former student, so she could see all the different things we are doing now.”

The employers’ network, which was set up to create a direct link between the college and businesses, now has 127 members.

*Photographs by Matt Radcliffe Photography