While the big birthday was the bicentenary of Thomas Harper Adams, who laid the foundations first for a college bearing his name and now for the vibrant and successful university where students from 33 countries attend.
The Princess Royal arrived by helicopter at Harper Adams University where she is Chancellor, and spoke with feeling on a cause close to her heart at a Symposium on technology’s role in feeding the Commonwealth.
She also said that Thomas Harper Adams was a far sighted individual – and perhaps the seeds he did lay the firm foundations for this success story in the county which reaches so many millions across the world.
There were other expert speakers at the symposium from home and overseas including Dr George Njenga, Dean of Strathmore Business School in Kenya.
And how fortunate we are to have someone like the Princess Royal who can speak with such knowledge and authority on so many topics connected with food production, agriculture, global issues and trade.
She told an attentive audience: “One of the first countries I ever went to on my own was Kenya and I got the chance to see how many areas worked. Things have changed since then but not the strengths of people’s ability to cope.”
Her Royal Highness spoke about similarities with the Save the Children Fund of which she is president – and which was founded in Shropshire by Eglantyne Jebb of Ellesmere.
While all the speakers referred to partnerships, efficient farming systems and multi-disciplinary projects.
Then it was a quick trip from the college to St Nicholas Church in Newport, conducted by the Rt Rev Mark Rylands, Bishop of Shrewsbury who paid tribute to everyone involved in the “high calibre” university.
With the princess once again highlighting Thomas Harper Adams and saying: “His vision is alive and well.”
At the church, those receiving Honorary Degrees included Sir Algernon Heber-Percy, Shropshire’s Lord Lieutenant.
Last year, the University was delighted to open the new Elizabeth Creak Laboratories as the first event to mark 200 years since Thomas Harper Adams was born into a Shropshire farming family.
Since 1901 the institution has remained true to his original aim of providing education for the agri-food chain and rural food industries, combining the very best of theory and practice.
Local is a good work, global is sometimes even better. And at the beginning of the symposium, Dr George Njenga said that South Africa was a shining example of how to do irrigation, climate change was real and so was common trade.
He told his audience: “If we are to feed the Commonwealth, we have to go back to working together in friendship and human partnership.”
While the Princess Royal left us food for thought when she said that little families who successfully grew their own food then moved to the side of roads so that there would be folk they could sell it to.
Unfortunately, the food they valued so much wouldn’t grow roadside so the great spectre called waste crept in.
A dilemma which thankfully is recognised and being tackled by so many. Some following in the oh so worthy footsteps of Thomas Harper Adams.