Students from across Ireland gathered for the annual Harper Ireland Club dinner in Shropshire where a number of awards were made to recognise achievements during the past year.

The Chairman of Harper Ireland, Anthony Donnelly – who grew up in Fermanagh, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Pat Donnelly, who have relocated to Co. Down – welcomed everyone to the event, that was held at Hadley Park Hotel, near Telford.

Mr. Donnelly welcomed the guests, who included the President of Harper Ireland Club, Professor Ken Sloan, Vice-Chancellor; the guest speaker, Jonathan Speers, from Delcour Maclaren, which has offices and staff across the UK and Ireland, delivering valued solutions to leading utility and infrastructure clients.

Other guests included Adele Lennox, Head of Agriculture at Omagh Academy, who met with some of her former students; Brian Donaldson, agricultural journalist; and Basil Bayne, Student Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Speers, who grew up in Co. Armagh, graduated from Harper Adams University in 2007 from the REALM (Rural Enterprise and Land Management) land surveying course and is now working for Delcour Maclaren, spreading his time across a number of offices.

He said he always had a love of land and its history, and is now Director of the Development Programme with the company, which is now 20 years old and now has more than 400 staff in 18 offices.

The staff skills represent surveying, agriculture, environment and data science.

Mr. Speers explained some of the routes for employment for young members of staff, such as apprenticeships.

Major projects which the company is now associated with now includes Dogger Bank offshore wind farm, a hydrogen plant and nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.

Each of these projects have huge potential to create energy for a large number of consumers.

Mr. Speers spoke of the importance of innovation and people and said the staff at Delcour Maclaren prided themselves on a one-team approach.

Prof. Sloan referred to the future of the university as a leading independent institution.

Among the awards were the following.

Vice-President's Award: Allistair Crawford, Claremore, Augher, a son of John and Sandra, and the incoming Chairman of the Harper Ireland Club for the next year, in his first year studying B.Sc (Hons) Agriculture.

Mr. Crawford is from a suckler and sheep farm, and in recent years, he was Club Leader of Seskinore YFC.

He won an award through Omagh for public speaking skills, and was educated at Omagh Academy.

The Truesdale Award, given in memory of the late Victor Truesdale, of John Thompsons and Sons, was presented by his son, Nevin, to this year's recipient, Grace Brown, who was a student ambassador and helped students adapt to their new environment.

Mr. Trusdale noted this was the 23rd year of the presentation of the award, and he paid tribute to Basil Bayne for his support over the years.

This year's recipient, Grace Brown – from a dairy farm near Newtownards – showed great leadership and resilience, and had acted as a student ambassador to new students entering the university.

The President's Prize and Special Award went to Craig Humes.

A number of Harper Ireland Scholarship certificates were presented to students.