John Alliston, An Appreciation

John Alliston_1_cropI first met John when he offered his services as the next Lead Tutor for the John Edgar Course. At a fireside chat (you could hardly call it an interview) he impressed Professor Tony Giles of Reading University, Dr Len Norman, the former Principal of Sparsholt College, and myself as the Trust’s layman representative with his enthusiasm and boundless energy for the task and we were sure that we had found the right person to take the Course forward.
Our confidence was well placed. John immediately restructured the Course to reflect the ever-busier professional lives of the successful candidates and introduced the rigorous and intensive 5-day initial module at Cirencester.
At the same time he was ever mindful of the Trust’s roots, and insisted that the two subsequent case-study based modules should be based in Hampshire. With the support of James Jones and the team that he assembled he raised the academic standard of the Course and it’s status within the farming community. To achieve this he made full use of his amazing wide circle of contacts. We had to widen our geographical recruiting area to include all his former students whom he persuaded to apply for a place, and he was able to call in favours and persuade eminent individuals to come and talk to the JET Scholars, either in a tutorial session or as an after dinner speaker. This wasn’t without some anxious moments though. Frequently John would say “So and so would be just the person to fill that slot” and there the matter would rest until alarmingly near the appointed date when somebody of more nervous disposition would ask John whether he had actually asked the individual and John would reply blithely “Well, no………… but he’ll do it”. And such was his charm and reputation that people would fall in with his invitation to talk even at short notice.
John had remarkable empathy with people of all ages, and it was extraordinary to see how he could blend a deliberately disparate group of somewhat apprehensive individuals into a fully functioning team within the five days of the initial JET Course module, and then could build on this over the next two sessions to deliver what many participants would describe as a life-changing experience.
John was planning to lead two more Courses for the Trust, but tragically this was not to be. Everyone in the John Edgar community will remember him affectionately and with much gratitude for all that he has achieved for us. He always said that he particularly enjoyed his involvement with our Trust and appreciated the fact that it was run by the farming community for the farming community. We have all lost a good friend. Under his leadership, and with the association with the RAU Cirencester which he forged, the Course has flourished. We owe it to John to build on his legacy and ensure that it evolves to meet the considerable challenges of the future.
Henry Wilson
JET Trustee

 

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Prof Alliston’s Management Training Philosophy!

 

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Collecting his Farmers Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016

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