RNAA Chief Executive receives honorary degree

A farming champion and business leader was awarded with an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Greg Smith, Chief Executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) received the accolade at the annual Easton and Otley College graduation ceremony that took place at the college’s Norfolk campus on Friday 18 October 2019.

Norfolk-born and educated at Newcastle University, Greg Smith joined the RNAA in 2012 after a business career in market research. Since then he has grown the Norfolk Showground business while preserving the Royal Norfolk Show as one of the leading events in the UK’s agricultural calendar. Earlier this year work by the UEA identified that the Show, that attracts almost 90,000 visitors and generates around £20m for the local economy annually.

Before Professor Mark Searcey, Pro-Vice Chancellor from the UEA, presented Mr Smith with his award, principal of the college, Jane Townsend, said, “Greg has been a prominent friend of the college and he is passionate about educating the next generation of the food and farming industry. We feel very fortunate to have someone of his calibre working with us and we are delighted to be honouring him in this way”.

She added that his support to developing a better understanding of agriculture, especially through the development of the Food and Farming Discovery Trust, had been outstanding.

During his speech, Mr Smith thanked Jane Townsend and her staff who ‘had worked tirelessly for the benefit of the college and students’ and stressed how important the future of land-based education is to this region.

He went on to praise his ‘lovely’ family, friends and many colleagues – before congratulating all of the graduates on their achievements and giving them all some words of advice. He said, “Trust yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them and move on.

“Don’t be afraid to be successful and sprinkle success wherever you go, be kind and have fun.”

He concluded by saying, “I would like to thank the University of East Anglia and Easton and Otley College for bestowing me this honour. I feel deeply privileged and very humbled. This means so very much to me.”

In total 94 people received higher education qualifications in subjects ranging from agriculture to animal science in ecology to sport. A small cohort of learners also picked up a selection of teaching qualifications that were awarded to them by the University of Huddersfield.

The college also gave out a series of special awards to students for their efforts during their time at the college.

The awards were for best dissertation, contribution to college life, endeavour, engagement, industry related project, progress, student of the year and trainee of the year.