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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Plumpton College Awarded Prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize

Plumpton College in Sussex has been awarded the highest National Honour in education, a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work in wine education and wider impact on the English and Welsh wine sector. Granted every two years by the reigning Monarch, the Prizes celebrate excellence, innovation and benefit for the wider world in Further & Higher Education.

Chair of Governors Julie Dougill and Principal Jeremy Kerswell attended an event at St James’s Palace by kind permission of His Majesty the King where the prizes were officially announced by the Royal Anniversary Trust.

The prize recognises the work of Plumpton College as the sole innovator and developer of industry-led training and education programmes for the English and Welsh wine industry since 1985. This progressive employer-college partnership has grown from foundation and degree programmes to an offer including a Master’s programme, industry CPD and more recently introductory-level wine academies and apprenticeships.

Ground-breaking work in the late 1980’s and 1990’s helped professionalise the industry when it was fledgling and struggling to produce the quality of vintage that could compete in an international market. In 2006, a period of rapid expansion occurred due to an increasing need for economic diversification on land estates, changing weather patterns favouring grape ripening and an economic push to increase product exports whilst reducing imports. Responding to employer demand for a production process to develop a high-quality English wine, the college’s own vineyard and winery has always been at the forefront of producing internationally award-winning sparkling wines. This resultant expertise, developed amongst Plumpton College graduates, has led the way to create a real competitor to champagne and other sparkling wines.

Subsequently, through continual close working with wine employers and employer representative bodies, programmes have been regularly reviewed and updated through the college’s advisory panels with industry to ensure they meet the sector’s emerging technical and business needs. Currently, over 95% of wineries and vineyards across the UK employ staff who have been trained and educated at the college.

Principal Jeremy Kerswell shares: “I am delighted to accept this most prestigious award, not only on behalf of Plumpton College, but for all those who have been part of this journey, and those who continue to shape our curriculum today. It’s a story that has been 40 years in the making but is now more important than ever before. Plumpton College continues to meet the needs of the industry by providing sector-leading graduates, with the right skills for sustained growth within the UK’s wine sector and beyond through our vast alumni network.”

Chair Julie Dougill shares: “We are deeply honoured Plumpton College has been announced as a recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. It is the recognition the industry deserves and a testament to our unwavering commitment to excellence in wine training and education as leaders in this field.”

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, the UK wine industry body added: “Congratulations to Plumpton on this highly prized and special award. Plumpton has contributed significantly to the development of the UK wine industry over the last decades through training, education and knowledge – their graduates make up many of the business owners, winemakers and viticulturists who drive the work of WineGB."

“As one of the fastest growing agriculture sectors in the UK today our wine industry offers an extensive and diverse range of highly skilled career opportunities. We considerably value our partnership with Plumpton to help shape the future of our member’s teams.“

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of The Royal Anniversary Trust said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education are an integral part of our national Honours system, shining a light on the groundbreaking work taking place in universities and colleges across the UK. All 22 Prize-winners demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact, with many tackling some of the toughest problems we as a society face today. They are to be commended for reaching this pinnacle of achievement in the tertiary education sector. Congratulations!”

Sam Linter, Director of Plumpton Wine Division “This is a very proud moment for all of us who are and have been involved with the development of Plumpton Wine Division. The culmination of more than 35 years as the UK’s Centre of Excellence in wine education, research and training has been the driving force to lead us to this incredible point in contributing and supporting this innovative and progressive industry.”

This is the fifteenth round of the scheme. There were over 100 entries this round and just twenty-two institutions were awarded a Prize. Winners will be presented with a medal and certificate at a formal Honours ceremony in February 2024.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the UK’s national Honours system, recognising outstanding work by UK colleges and universities which demonstrates excellence and innovation and delivers real benefit to the wider world. Open to eligible universities and colleges of Further and Higher Education in the United Kingdom, the Prizes may be awarded in any field of study. First awarded in 1994, the Prizes are granted every two years by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister following a rigorous and independent process of review carried out by The Royal Anniversary Trust, an independent charity.


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