Over 120 Years Service with NOSCA, SAC, now SRUC!

Published Wednesday, 17th October 2012 in Education news

Long Service awards for Staff

At a recent ceremony in Craibstone six members of SRUC staff were presented with Long Service awards by SRUC Vice Chairman Pat Machray OBE.

Ian Bingham, Collette Coll, Steve Deans, Val Griffin-Walker, Grace Hendry and Alex Sinclair have all served some 25 years with the organisation.   

Dr Ian Bingham started with the North of Scotland College of Agriculture (NOSCA) in 1987 as a Lecturer and Adviser in the Agricultural Botany Division. There he developed the keen interest in plant biology that was the foundation of his successful research career today.

Working with a talented and respected group under Stan Matthews, Ian developed a research programme across SAC and with external partners. With increasing departmental integration Ian played a key role in developing the research profile of the ’crops grouping’, with his own interests in crop growth and development. Following the formation of the Crop & Soil Systems Research Group in 2005, Ian divided his time between the Aberdeen and Edinburgh Centres studying crop nutrient use efficiency and tolerance to disease.

Ian has a meticulous approach to research. A common response from colleagues is that he is one of the very best people to work with – with a smile, patience and always ready to listen. His work is widely recognised outside SRUC and he is a key participant in crop physiology research in the UK.

Dr Collette Coll joined NOSCA after completing a first class degree in Agricultural Zoology at Glasgow University. Involved in research, consultancy and teaching she was in great demand as a specialist advisor in entomology.

Busy with teaching and advisory work Collette completed much of her PhD on tipulids (daddy longlegs) in the evenings, also publishing a number of papers on her work.  Following the relocation of SAC from Aberdeen to Craibstone, she played a key role in the development of the Countryside Management course and some ten years ago became Senior Tutor in Aberdeen.

Collette has a people-centred and caring approach, and is proactive in developing a good rapport with students, mentoring and supporting them.  She has revolutionised the support given to students with disabilities, and is a strong advocate of diversity and equality. Also committed to career support she has, in recent years, secured funds for student summer placements for around seven students a year with real-world, paid work experience over the summer, either with SAC or externally.

Well known for her role in the Graduation ceremony and various less respectable roles in the Craibstone pantomime Collette has remained Programme Leader for the Countryside Management course and is one of the drivers behind the development and continuing delivery of the distance learning Countryside and Environmental Management HNC.

Steve Deans first joined NOSCA as a Store Man, later moving to his present role as Head Porter and over the last 22 years has been, and remains, crucial to the organisation in terms of business support. He played a major role in organising the institution’s move from the School of Agriculture Building, owned at the time by Aberdeen University, to what is today Craibstone Estate.

Steve’s knowledge and experience in his role, coupled with sincere dedication and loyalty to SRUC is commendable. He says that while he has been through a few low times, the many happy memories as a member of the organisation are what keeps him going.    

On leaving school Val Griffin-Walker had to choose between agricultural science or the RAF. She chose NOSCA where she has worked in various departments, all linked to crops, from cereals and oil seed rape to potatoes.

Over the years she has developed numerous skills including operating combine harvesters and PCR machines as well as increasing her knowledge of a wide range of crop diseases and plant pathology techniques hugely. She has also been instrumental in keeping QA and health and safety requirements up to date. Val has been a great support to a large number of students passing through as either PhD students or summer placements and is a much valued colleague.

Grace Hendry grew up close to Craibstone on the home farm, Howe Moss at Dyce, which has been in her family for over 100 years and which she still farms today.  She joined NOSCA when it was still the old School of Agriculture in King Street, Aberdeen. She started as an Administrative Assistant before moving into the Farm Accounts Scheme as an Administrative Officer, visiting farms in the North East and analysing their accounts.   

In 2000 Grace became Office Manager in the Craibstone Farm Office and two years later was managing the accounts for all of the College farms. Since 2005 she has been an Administrator in the Land Economy and Environment Research Group (LEERG). When most of LEERG relocated to Edinburgh, Grace took on morning work in the Vet Labs Office. Grace also worked in support of the Social Science teaching group and participated in the Rural Business Women’s study tour to Iceland.  

Despite Dr Alex Sinclair’s sleek and athletic frame he is a genuine “heavyweight” soil scientist with an international reputation in trace elements in agriculture, the application of organic manures and wastes to land, soil fertility management and control of diffuse pollution from agriculture.

Throughout his long and successful career he has striven to apply his extensive knowledge of soils, crops and the science behind them with a no-nonsense, common-sense approach that has served the industry well at all levels. He has played an important role in numerous UK and international scientific committees on a wide range of topics from sewage sludge to composts and from crop nutrients to pollution management. He has participated in innumerable subject-focussed and multi-disciplinary workshops, committees and projects and has published a formidable number of scientific papers, research reports, guidance documents and technical notes in his many specialist subject areas.  

Alex has always been able to balance his work and external commitments, most recently successfully project-managing the development of PLANET Scotland nutrient management programme with the Presidency of Scottish Squash, as well as representing Scotland in Masters Squash Internationals.  We look forward to Alex having a continued important role within SAC Consulting for the foreseeable future.

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