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UCOL Honours Bob Francis And Al Brown

UCOL Honours Bob Francis And Al Brown

Thursday 22 March 2012

Former Masterton Mayor Bob Francis and chef Al Brown have been honoured by the Council of the Universal College of Learning for their contribution to UCOL and the wider community.

Bob Francis received the Honorary Fellow award, the Council’s highest Honour, at today’s UCOL graduation ceremony in Masterton. The award recognises an outstanding and distinguished contribution to UCOL and/or the wider community. Wairarapa-born chef Al Brown received the Honorary Associate award, for a significant and distinguished contribution.

The awards were presented by UCOL Council Chair Trevor Goodwin who said Mr Francis had a longstanding interest and involvement with tertiary education in the Wairarapa. “He was involved in the inception of Wairarapa Community Polytechnic in 1989 and has continued to support the provision of tertiary education in the region. This often required advocacy in political and economic environments that were a challenge to polytechnics remaining viable, with changing demographics.

Bob has always believed in the need for tertiary education in the provinces of New Zealand and encouraged staff in their efforts to continue to deliver to the people of the Wairarapa.

“When it became clear that Wairarapa Community Polytechnic could not continue to maintain viable delivery autonomously, Bob was an advocate for merging with UCOL to ensure the region continued to have access to tertiary education. He was appointed to the UCOL Council in 2001 and contributed to governance until 2008.”

Mr Goodwin noted that during his term as Mayor, Mr Francis worked tirelessly to grow the region, and enhance its reputation and population. “Today, many attractions in Masterton are testament to his time as Mayor – including Aratoi, Genesis Recreation Centre, Masterton Skate Park, Queen Elizabeth Park and playground, Shear History Trust, Pukaha Mt Bruce.”

He said Mr Francis continues to contribute to the wider community, as Chair of the Wairarapa DHB and Pukaha Mt Bruce and works with many community groups and organisations on a volunteer basis.

“He has also continued to support and promote UCOL Wairarapa. He helped successfully relaunch the School of Cookery, with chef Al Brown. He also facilitated negotiations with the Wairarapa DHB, which resulted in the provision of computer training to more than 200 hospital staff.

“In his work with International Rugby Board’s Referee Selection Panel, he was able to secure the attendance of the Hurricanes at Open Days, attracting many hundreds of people to the campus. UCOL is fortunate to have his support.”

Announcing the award to chef Al Brown, Mr Goodwin described him as a chef, television presenter, writer, fisherman and restaurateur who has cooked in and owned restaurants in North America, Europe and New Zealand.
He also co-presented the award winning TV series, Hunger for the Wild, and presented the TV show, Coasters, exploring the connection New Zealanders have with the ocean. He has been a culinary ambassador for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise since 2003 and is the author of award winning cookbook Go Fish, and Stoked. His latest television series, Get Fresh, explored ten different New Zealand regions.

“Al maintains a strong connection with his home region. He supported UCOL Wairarapa to help attract sufficient students to revive the Professional Cookery programmes. He presented a day of public cooking demonstrations on the campus as part of the promotion of the School of Cookery. The resulting community interest and subsequent enrolments allowed the Professional Cookery programme to be reinstated after a one year hiatus.

“He also participated in events for Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand in which UCOL is a partner with Le Cordon Bleu and Weltec. This included leading the home team in a unique culinary challenge against France to celebrate the Rugby World Cup and the launch of Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand.”

Mr Goodwin said Mr Brown has significantly contributed to New Zealand’s profile internationally and is a great ambassador for this country and for this region. “We also appreciate his support for UCOL and programmes within the Wairarapa region and his support for the School of Cuisine.”


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