Bicton reunion for Cornish class of '63
Our day back at Bicton, for most of us the first in 50 years, started with myself riding with two others from back then, and getting lost. So we asked a lady, who turned out to be Irish, for directions.
We still arrived early and the first person we saw was Johnny Walker, one of our lecturers, who looked no older that we did, but we were the first group he lectured, as he had just arrived as a lecturer.
We have been planning this reunion for some 10 months or so, the idea of Ginger (John) Hart, who worked hard and got us all together.
David Henley, the principal, met us and gave an insight into Bicton today, and highlighted the many changes that 50 years had seen, not least that we were a class of some 65, and today there are about 230 students in residence.
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And in our day it was general agricultural; today it is much more diverse, with equestrian, veterinary nursing, animal husbandry and renewable technology, environmental and outdoor activities, to name just some of the courses available.
With the increase in student numbers comes more accommodation, as we all lived in Bicton House, some of us six to a room. Now students have single-bed studies.
We had a trailer ride tour of the farm, when the farm manager Paul Redmore, gave an insight into the farming systems of Bicton today, which was vastly different to our day, complete new builds and change of uses. The farm is now something like twice as big, which includes the dairy herd, managed on a New Zealand system outdoors all year.
The old shippon is now the Earth Centre, where renewable technology and a fuel-free future is investigated, and a new £3 million animal husbandry unit is under construction, in partnership with the Rare Breed Survival Trust. It's the only partnership of its kind in the UK, and besides rare breeds of farm animals, small animals, reptiles, fish and primates are kept.
A pasty lunch followed, and this was just as we wanted – very informal so we could mill and mix. A coat-of-arms, made by Liz Farmer (formerly Brasil) was presented in recognition of our 50th reunion, to Mr Henley, who said it will be displayed for all to see.
A total of 25 ex-students and partners attended, almost a third of the original class of 1963, which in its self was very gratifying, given that 50 years had lapsed. Some of us had first met as 15-year-olds at Camborne Tec in 1961.
Everyone had a wonderful day and a thoroughly enjoyable meeting, many for the first time since 1964 – and although some faces had changed, many had not, and personalities were still 1963.