A LONG-SERVING principal of a major Hampshire college is retiring after 22 years at the helm.

Tim Jackson has worked at Sparsholt College for 34 years and been in further education for 38 years in total.

His replacement is Julie Milburn who has been principal designate for over a year will take up the top role on August 1.

Mr Jackson has been a member of staff at Sparsholt since 1986 when he was recruited from Warwickshire College of Agriculture to become a tutor and course manager for the Diploma in Agriculture.

He became principal in 1998 which coincided with a period of considerable course expansion and building projects at the college, with an Outstanding designation being awarded by Ofsted during Tim’s early term of principalship. In 2007, he spearheaded a merger of Sparsholt with Andover College.

Mr Jackson said that, whilst agriculture and the huge diversity of other plant and animal science-based subjects are very much his personal interest, one of his proudest achievements has been re-establishing a very high quality sixth form and technical curriculum at Andover College which saw student enrolments double.

Neil Hopkins, chairman of the board of governors, paid tribute: “I see at close hand just how much time, energy and dedication Tim has put into his role at Sparsholt and Andover. He has a national reputation, far beyond Hampshire, and is rightly seen as one of the foremost leaders of Further Education in this country. His leadership and his vision for the college have been, quite simply, excellent. Many, many students past and present owe him a great debt.”

Sparsholt’s campus has seen the expansion of state-of-the-art land-based facilities, including rebuilding much of the college farm which provides applied learning and work place simulation on technically high performing enterprises, the Aquatic Research and Conservation Centre, the Salmonid Rearing and Trials Centre, the Motor Vehicle Engineering Centre, the Sir Mark Todd Rider Performance Studio with Racewood Simulator, the Indoor Rifle Range in addition to a 100m Full Bore Outdoor Rifle Range (opened in 2019) and the Game and Wildlife Centre.

Mr Jackson said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of a college which is comprised of employers and businesses, who are so supportive and my colleagues who I have had the privilege to lead and who, through their dedication, innovation and passion, inspire and support our students to transform their own lives and go directly into great careers or higher study.

Stepping into the role of principal and chief executive of Sparsholt College Group, Ms Milburn said: “I have had the privilege of working alongside Tim for the past two years and observed first-hand his outstanding approach to leading such a diverse organisation with great success.”