Educator and agricultural stalwart retires from final public role

A key figure in agriculture and education in the UK, Dr Tony Harris CBE, has stepped down from his last remaining public role.

Dr Harris, a former principal of Harper Adams University College, namesake of The Harris Centre at Walford and North Shropshire College and Fellow of the Open University, chaired his final meeting of the Certification Committee of organic control body, Organic Farmers & Growers, on March 2.

Dr Tony Harris (first from left) receives an engraved decanter and glasses set from OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs. Pictured with OF&G directors, Richard Corbett (left) and Angela Bates.

Dr Tony Harris (first from left) receives an engraved decanter and glasses set from OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs. Pictured with OF&G directors, Richard Corbett (left) and Angela Bates.

Having led the independent committee for a decade as it adjudicated on standards and certification issues, Dr Harris was presented with an inscribed crystal decanter and glasses at a farewell lunch with staff, directors and fellow committee members.

He told the gathering: “There are so many good memories I have got of Organic Farmers & Growers. I have been fascinated by the way the organisation has developed itself over the ten years. There seems to be a unity of purpose. The whole organisation has gone forward enormously during my time here, gaining such a good national reputation. That’s down to the committed, friendly and hard working staff.”

He added: “It’s very poignant for me. Since retiring from Harper Adams I have chaired all sorts of things and this is the very last one I am giving up. It’s quite something to say “well, that’s it – now I’m retiring properly!” I shall miss it and I shall remember it as having been very enjoyable. Thank you for ten memorable years.”

Having led the internationally renowned Harper Adams University College through a period of expansion and reorganisation between 1977 and 1994, Dr Harris has continued to be involved in many roles supporting agricultural education and the food economy.

He has served a wide range of organisations since his retirement as principal at the college including as chairman of Heart of England Fine Foods, a governorship at Walford and North Shropshire College for 14 years, a board member of the Advantage West Midlands regional development agency, a trustee of the The Farmers Club Charitable Trust and being appointed the first chair of the West Midlands Regional Rural Affairs Forum, in 2002.

In 2007 his contribution to Walford and North Shropshire College was marked with the institution’s new Harris Centre being named in his honour and opened by HRH The Princess Royal.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “We have been enormously privileged to have had the services of someone of Dr Harris’s calibre and experience to chair the Certification Committee. He has done the job for ten years with considerable skill and commitment. His contribution to agriculture and education is immeasurable. He is a true gentleman and we will miss his buoyant personality and his support, but we all wish him the very best now that he is finally retiring properly.”

Organic Farmers & Growers provides certification and inspection services to organic farming and food processing across Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, as well as certifying commercial composting and the digestate output from anaerobic digestion to their respective standards.

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