Merrist Wood College welcomes local community and employers on site for engagement event in the sunshine!

Merrist Wood College opened its gates to welcome local stakeholders, employers and members of the public as part of a showcase of what the college offers the community.

The sun shone on the hottest day of the year and Merrist Wood had never looked more spectacular and local business leaders, civic dignitaries and valued community stakeholders came onto the campus on Friday (17/6)

Taking place in the college’s stunning walled garden, the college’s career pathways stands were protected from the heat of the day by colourful gazebos which were arranged around the vast flower beds of roses all tended by the college’s horticultural students.

Keeping a keen eye on proceedings were the campuses meerkat colony who watched with interest from their enclosure at the side of the garden!

Students were on hand to answer questions and showcase their subject areas as well as giving tours of the college’s animal management centre and our Horticulture students sold plants that they had grown themselves, which proved extremely popular!


The day also saw the launch of Men in Sheds in partnership with Age UK.

This is an amazing initiative that supports older men in our community, helping them to stay active and connected to others, encouraging social inclusion and helping to alleviate loneliness whilst creating some beautifully crafted items made of wood, all under the expert supervision of a well-qualified and experienced team leader.

Gary Headland, CEO of Activate Learning, Mayor and Mayoress of Guildford, Dennis and Mary Booth joined Sue Zirps, CEO of Age UK Surrey, Joy Vice Allen, Vice Chair of Age UK Surrey and Lady Elizabeth Toulson CBE, Deputy Lieutenant, for the official ribbon cutting, plaque unveiling and some heart-warming speeches for this special occasion.

Gary Headland said of this welcome addition to the college: “It was an incredible privilege to open a new ‘Men in Sheds’ facility at our Merrist Wood College, which we are proud to have as part of the Activate Learning Group.

“This is a fantastic initiative made possible by the generous donation made by Guildford Philanthropy and in partnership with Guildford Borough Council and Worplesdon Parish Council.

“Projects like this demonstrate the role that colleges play across the UK, adding social value to the communities that they are proud to serve, and I hope this will provide a valuable resource for our local residents for years to come”.

Sue Zirps, Age UK Surrey Chief Executive said: “We are thrilled to partner with Merrist Wood on this exciting new development for our Men in Sheds project.

“The new premises provides much needed extra space that will allow The Shedders easier access to equipment in the workshop including hand tools, portable power tools and small machines and to enable them to work on larger projects.”

An Employer Engagement event took place in the afternoon, where 40 local organisations across a variety of land based industries enjoyed cream teas, chatting to staff and understanding how Merrist Wood College are able support local businesses with staff training, apprenticeships, work experience opportunities and mutually beneficial working partnerships.

Some students impressed our guests so much that they were offered job opportunities on the spot!

Laura Asbridge, Commercial Director at Merrist Wood College said: “It was a fantastic event and a blue print for many more to come. The feedback we have received from both employers and community leaders has been incredibly positive and we look forward to making this a regular feature for the college going forward”.

For more information on what Merrist Wood College has to offer, please see our website.