Lockdown Learning is a phrase we’ve heard a lot of over the last year. With schools and colleges shut, parents and pupils have been faced with finding new ways to keep on top of their studies. While also trying to keep healthy and fit. Not to mention that many parents still need to fit in working from home in-between.

The pressure on our education system has been enormous with lecturers working in exceptional circumstances to keep the education standards high, particularly with older students preparing to take their education to the next level and hopefully lead them into the world of employment.

One of those is Coleg Gwent lecturer, KATE BEAVAN, who has been honoured with an MBE for her services to agriculture. Kate has spent her life working with animals and conservation in a variety of roles and she’s worked at Coleg Gwent’s Usk campus for 25 years. With a passion for education, she enjoys passing her wealth of knowledge on to students who share the same interests, and Kate now leads Coleg Gwent’s popular foundation degree in Animal Health and Welfare  

Coleg Gwent tutors are experts in their fields with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their subject areas. Brought up in the countryside, Kate was inspired by her father – a true countryman and writer, whose sheer love and understanding of the countryside was passed on to Kate. He was also an inspirational lecturer in creative writing and always had a notebook and pen in his pocket, and he charmed everybody with his quick wit and understanding of country characters and rural life. Many tales told over a pint in the pub have been replicated in his articles, songs and books, inspiring Kate’s love of agriculture, country life and teaching.  

The USK CAMPUS is a pretty amazing place and offers so much to students, in a ‘real world’ working environment. It’s a full-on, 265 acre farm, including and Equine Centre, which incidentally is the only British Horse Society in Wales. Of course they have cattle and sheep herds, and a small animal care centre.

In fact, if farming or animal care is where your passion lies they will give you the skills to hone your passion and open the doors to your dream career working with large and small animals. From veterinary surgeries to grooming salons. From animal feed companies to zoos. If you love animals, you can study a course in animal care and management with them.

They also have access to excellent sport facilities including sports halls, gyms, fitness suites and outdoor pitches. All students can get involved with the sports teams, whether you’re competing already at elite level, or you just want to try something new whilst keeping fit and healthy.

Kate is the embodiment of life at the college. She not only teaches but is also a farmer and passionately promotes women in farming while contributing to the local community. She was County Chair for the NFU and volunteers with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Welsh Marine Life Rescue Team. Kate has also just taken on another role as Project Officer for an ambitious farmer-led project, planting 1 million trees in South East Wales, so life is never dull and always busy! If that wasn’t enough to keep her occupied, she also founded Kate’s Country School, where she runs courses on animal husbandry and rural skills including sheepshearing, sheep husbandry, lambing and cider making.

Kate believes that the link between food and the countryside is often not understood. Food production and the environment go hand-in-hand, and Welsh farmers work hard to maintain this balance in producing quality, safe, affordable food whilst maintaining the beautiful countryside we live in. So, she enjoys weaving this into her teaching and bringing learners onto the farm to see first-hand how the environment and food production work in harmony. So, learners studying the foundation degree in Animal Health, Welfare and Veterinary Science at Coleg Gwent benefit from Kate’s passion for sharing her knowledge and agricultural practices in real life scenarios. 

Kate’s Country School

With a love for rural life and the rural community, all of these activities feed into Kate’s teaching practice and led to her being recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. An MBE (Member of the British Empire) award can be awarded for all types of different achievement, but it is often given in recognition of community achievements or for a local “hands-on” service that has set an example to others – and this is something she’s achieved time and again with learners at Coleg Gwent.

Reflecting on her honour, Kate told us…….

“It was a huge shock and I’m still getting my head around it to be honest. I had the initial e-mail early in December but thought it was spam and was going to delete it! A lovely letter followed and it all became real. I still do not feel worthy of it but the feedback has been amazing and above all it made us smile.” 

Kate’s now looking forward to a trip to London for the awards ceremony when it’s safe to do so, and in the meantime, she continues to bang the drum for agriculture and the wonderful people who work in the industry through her teaching, farming and volunteering. On behalf of Coleg Gwent, we’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Kate on her outstanding achievement.

If you’d like to take a look around the facilities at USK CAMPUS, you can do that from the comfort of you device. They have excellent aerial views of everything they have on offer. Just go HERE scroll down to the bottom of the page and click play.

Usk Campus

To follow in Kate’s footsteps and benefit from her expertise and knowledge, discover the agriculture and animal care courses on offer at Coleg Gwent HERE