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Leading rural educator retires

Published: January 15, 2018

Duchy College | Bicton College Duchy Stoke Climsland Corporate

One of the county’s leading figures in rural agricultural and land-based education has retired after an illustrious career spanning more than 30 years.

Andrew Counsell’s time in education saw the establishment of Duchy College Stoke Climsland and Duchy College Rosewarne in Cornwall as some of the leading land-based and rural colleges in the region.

Chief executive and principal of The Cornwall College Group (TCCG) Raoul Humphreys said “Andrew has made an outstanding contribution to the College and the land-based sector during his long career in education and with the Group”.

“We have enjoyed celebrating his achievements during the course of the last few months with the many friends and partners that Andrew has worked with during his long and illustrious career,” he continued.

“On a personal note, I will miss his energy, infectious enthusiasm and drive; we have worked together for a long time and I wish him all the best for his retirement; he has left an unparalleled legacy of entrepreneurship and excellence at Duchy College and Bicton College, which the sector will continue to benefit from, for years to come.”

Andrew’s career began within the equestrian industry as a rider and in 1979 he moved to Holland to show jump and took up the sport of carriage driving.

He spent time in Germany riding and followed a parallel career in carriage driving, competing and training nationally and internationally, but his mum told him “you need to get yourself a proper job”.

With that he joined Bicton College in 1986, now part of The Cornwall College Group (TCCG), as a lecturer in equine studies and in 1990 joined Duchy College as head of the equestrian department.

Show jumping, dressage, horse trials and vaulting filled Andrew’s calendar and he became an examiner for Riding for the Disabled, helping to enable the RDA to become firmly established at the College.

Carriage driving

Throughout this time Andrew continued to build his career outside of College working for the FEI, the World Governing body of Equestrian sport, as a Judge for International Carriage driving and he has to date been on the ground jury for the last 12 World Championships.

In 1993 Andrew became Director of Studies, working with the team to develop the Higher Education provision within the College and in the following year was appointed Vice Principal of Duchy College.

It was also a great honour for Andrew when he became chairman of JTP European consortium of Agricultural Colleges from 1995 to 1999.

In 2005 Andrew became Principal of the Duchy College; a title that he proudly retained until his retirement at the end of December 2017.

Rural leadership

He began to build relationships with horticultural leaders in the West and took great pleasure in getting to know all who had contact with the College.  His main achievements included offering thousands of young people the opportunity to study and gain qualifications in courses in the rural sector – supporting an ethos of life-long learning, the establishment of the Rural Business School, which was awarded the Queens Anniversary Prize in 2014, and numerous other initiatives which have collectively enhanced the life chances, knowledge exchange and expertise of those working in the land-based sector.

Andrew holds the title of Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Farmers and is a Freeman of the City of London. He has held roles of Vice Chair and Chair Designate LANDEX – Land based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence and the Management committee National Agri Skills FORUM.

He intends to focus on his competitive riding and a host of other new and exciting challenges. TCCG and Duchy College wishes him all the best for the future.

Moments after a famous rugby victory.

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