SIR: One of the many inconveniences of lockdown has been that the governors of Sparsholt and Andover College have been unable to mark properly the retirement of Tim Jackson after a total of 34 years at the college, the last 22 of which were as principal.

I write to say a huge public thank you on behalf of the very many generations of students who have benefitted from their time at Sparsholt and Andover. Even those who had little contact with Tim personally, have him to thank for much of the continued success of the college. Without a principal as skilled and as dedicated as he has been, the college(s) would be far poorer, in every sense of the word, and the experience of staff and students would have been less rewarding.

Running a college as diverse as Sparsholt, and in latter years Andover, is particularly complicated and challenging. There cannot be many colleges with a zoo licence, apprentices, first and higher degree students, A levels, BTECs, courses in agriculture, animal management, equine, fishery, game, arboriculture, motor vehicle mechanics -- the list goes on. Tim has shown tremendous dedication, integrity and professionalism throughout.

Of course, a college depends on a team, not just one person, and Tim has been lucky to have had the support of such a strong staff team: lecturers, academic support staff, site and administration staff, managers, all of the highest quality. Although perhaps it has not been a matter of luck, since Tim selected and appointed the vast majority of the current staff himself!

As governors we recognise that Tim has left the college in a very strong position, and we share his confidence that his successor, Julie Milburn, will carry on his good work, taking us from strength to further strength.

Principals rarely get much praise; that’s the nature of the job. So I just want to say a straightforward, public “thank you and well done, Tim!”

Neil Hopkins,

Chairman of Governors,

Sparsholt and Andover College