|The Final Field Test|
It was billed as ‘The Final Field Test’ Reunion, but there has been nothing final about the contacts, memories, plans and ideas engendered by the 1938-1975 VFM gathering held at Lincoln University over 11-13 April.
Initiated by the Alumni and Development Office and developed in association with an organising committee made up of Allan Bilbrough, Bob Engelbrecht, Roy Evans, Neil Gow, Chris Jones, Tom Marks, and Bruce Ryde, the reunion drew an attendance of over 180 from throughout New Zealand and with several participants from Australia.
The programme for the three days included farm tours, campus tours, photo sessions, a barbecue dinner on the opening night, a colloquium and buffet lunch on the Saturday, a formal reunion dinner in the University Food and Function Centre on the Saturday night, and Christchurch city tours on the Sunday.
The Diploma in Valuation and Farm Management was a flagship programme offered at Canterbury Agricultural College and Lincoln College over the period 1938-1975. Almost 1000 candidates completed the course and its graduates went on to hold many top public service and private sector land and agriculture related positions in New Zealand. They were also an illustrious group, and Neil Gow compiled a list of the high honours and awards achieved by many of them, including knighthoods, gallantry awards, and Cabinet positions.
The assurance by Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West in his Friday night opening address that “Lincoln has returned to its roots” struck a welcome chord with the VFM-ers and set a positive tone for the weekend.
Hilarious tales were told by the colloquium speakers on the Saturday morning following the official opening by Chancellor Tom Lambie and official welcome by Roy Evans on behalf of the Alumni Association Executive. Colloquium speakers were Barry Brook, Neal Ibbotson, Tony Friedlander, John Clendon and Pita Alexander.
The tales - tall, true or apocryphal - continued at the dinner on the Saturday night at which John Ryan was the MC and the toast to the University and absent friends was proposed by Sir Don McKinnon.
As an example of on-going plans emerging from this purportedly ‘Final’ event, participants who were from the ranks of the Rural Field Cadets held a short meeting during the reunion from which has emerged a set of objectives to produce a documented history of the RFC scheme (see article in this AlumnLinc).
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