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EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY  |  Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

Businessman Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones – more famously known as the ‘Black Farmer’ – has given a group of academic high flyers food for thought with his tips for growing their own bright futures.

The Jamaican born founder of "The Black Farmer" range of food products was the guest of honour at a graduation ceremony held at the Ardleigh Green Campus.

The charismatic farmer describes himself as ‘a poor boy done good’. His parents came to the UK in the 1950s and settled in inner-city Birmingham. At the age of 11 he had to help his father grow food for the family on an allotment. The experience seeded a dream to own a farm.

Getting there was not easy. He is dyslexic, hated school, joined the army but was kicked out and then tried his hand at catering. Ambitious and persistent, Emmanuel-Jones managed to get a break with the BBC and is credited with bringing celebrity chefs onto television. It took him 40 years, but eventually he fulfilled his childhood dream to purchase a small farm in Devon and launch The Black Farmer brand which includes a range of award-winning sausages.

As a successful businessman, Emmanuel-Jones now “puts something
back” and runs a scheme through which young people from inner city communities are given the opportunity to experience what it is really like to live and work in a rural community.

Emmanuel-Jones delivered a motivational address telling students: “Set your mind on your goals no matter how distant and how many other things cross your path. Keep your focus on what is important to you. All great plans have an element of jeopardy but don’t let fear stop you or you will never achieve – take that chance!

“This is best time ever for degree students. You are at the end of one journey and the beginning of the next. Celebrate your achievement. Look ahead and make it count.”

Havering College principal Noel Otley said: “Every student here this evening has done incredibly well, achieving something very special, often juggling their studies in the context of demanding jobs and busy family lives.”

The celebrating graduands included Steven Bortone from Purfleet who was awarded a BA Honours in Graphic Design.

Steven, 26, a father-of-one whose wife is expecting their second child, said: “I was offered places at five universities but chose to come to Havering College on the recommendation of someone in the industry. The support and encouragement at the college has been phenomenal.”

The visit by Emmanuel-Jones was also seen as a not-to-be-missed opportunity by the college’s media students who recorded an interview and picked up tips on working in television.