About 80 former staff and students attended the 40th anniversary reunion at Merrist Wood College.
Pioneers who helped create new standards in the UK landscaping industry celebrated a milestone in a reunion at Merrist Wood College near Guildford last week.
The event celebrating 40 years of teaching landscaping at the college attracted some of the leading figures in the industry, many of them former Merrist Wood lecturers or students whose work has won medals at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flowers Shows. Among them was David Dodd, who appeared on ITV’s recent series of Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh.
Keynote speaker David Winn, of Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries, outlined plans to develop a professional skills framework and invited businesses and training organisations to contribute their views. He explained that Lantra has funding from the Employment and Innovation Fund to produce the framework for land-based industries and was working with BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) and businesses to agree a minimum level of competence across the sector.
“During the forthcoming months we will be trying to contact as many businesses as possible for their contribution, as both qualifications and expertise must be part of the framework if it is to engage with all in the sector,” he said
In his welcoming speech at the celebration, lecturer in landscape construction Tony Begg told guests that the event was also to honour the contribution of the late Brian Norcliffe, who introduced the first Ordinary National Diploma in landscape construction at Merrist Wood in the 1970s. The course had paved the way to new standards in landscape training, which had previously been confined largely to parks maintenance, he said. Mr Norcliffe was also instrumental in the founding of BALI, whose first Annual General Meeting was held at the college in 1972.
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