On her latest visit to the University of Huddersfield, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal hailed its recent successes.
The Princess was introduced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan, who said that the past year had been the most amazing since the institution’s origins in 1825. He cited a string of awards, including the University of the Year, top place in a Best University Workplace Survey, plus an award for Best Estates and Facilities. Also, the findings of an international survey had just placed Huddersfield at fifth in the world for student experience.
Inviting Her Royal Highness to open Student Central, Professor Cryan said that the building was unique in the UK university sector for the way in which it integrated a wide range of sports and student support facilities.
The University of Huddersfield’s ambition was to inspire, to innovate and to be international, continued Professor Cryan. “And that is what this building represents,” he said. He also paid a special tribute to retiring Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities Alan Johnson, who had played a key role in the development of Student Central.
Textiles and fashion
As she unveiled a ceremonial plaque, the Princess Royal paid tribute to the University’s achievements and recalled the fact that she had paid a visit less than a year ago, as part of a project to boost the numbers of women studying science and technology subjects.
Her latest visit focussed on the University’s achievements in the fields of textiles and fashion. She was fascinated by a display mounted by eight talented undergraduates who are in the final stages of fashion and textiles degree courses.
The design concepts ranged from fabrics inspired by the ocean flora of Australia – where BSc student Cara Mellor had spent several months on work placement with two Melbourne design companies – to woven textiles that evoke the imagery of the fishing industry of Grimsby, hometown of student Danielle Souter.
The sources of inspiration and the range of techniques – from the traditional to the experimental – were immensely varied. For example, textile crafts student Kitty Craske had experimented with the use of food waste in order to create bio plastics. Eve Cavell had used machine knitting to produce a thought-provoking collection of items inspired by war and conflict. Jessica Thornton created embroideries based on colourful drawings produced by youngsters who attend her mother’s playgroup in Huddersfield.
The students whose work was on display had experienced a wide variety of stimulating work placements as part of their courses. April Lyons taught weaving to U.S. youngsters at a camp in Vermont, while womenswear designer Hannah Reuter spent a year in London with leading fashion designers and retailers, including Top Shop, which used some of her prints for garments placed on sale in its stores.
The party accompanying the Princess Royal as she inspected the students’ work included Professor Cryan, Senior Lecturer Nicola Redmore, who is Subject Leader for Textiles, and Dr Kevin Almond, the University’s Head of Fashion and Textiles. Also present were 14 VIP guests representing firms, agencies and textile bodies with which the University’s Fashion and Textiles Department has close links. The Royal visit was an ideal opportunity to thank them, said Dr Almond, and afterwards they attended a celebratory lunch.
After her inspection of the fashion students’ work, the Princess Royal toured Student Central, meeting a range of the specialist teams based there. With a fast-paced game of volleyball as the backdrop, she spoke to Laurie Nettleton, who is Manager of the University of Huddersfield Sport and Fitness Department; current Students’ Union president Josh Elderfield; the Head of the University’s Employability and Careers Service, Stephen Boyd; and David Keegan, of the Wellbeing and Disability Services.
She then spoke to Gemma Fieldsend, who is mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor, plus two student helpers, Dave Wells and Amy Burrow. Her Royal Highness heard about the self-help groups, including one that tackles eating disorders, which are run by the service.
When Her Royal Highness visited the International Office, she met its Director, Andrew Mandebura, Head of International Operations Joanne Ryan and students from a wide range of countries. She also spoke to the Director of Estates and Facilities Colin Blair and his deputy Alan Johnson.
The Princess was escorted throughout her visit by the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Timothy Hare, and among the dignitaries in attendance were the new Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, and the Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Ken Smith.