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Lantra Scotland reveals short-list for Learner of the Year Awards 2017

19 talented trainees and apprentices  have been shortlisted for Lantra Scotland’s 2017 Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards, which take place on Thursday 2rd March at theDoubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

Organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, the awards are now in their 15th year of celebrating the achievements of trainees within Scotland’s rural sector and encouraging employers to invest in the next generation of rural talent.

One of the major highlights of this year’s awards will be a keynote address from farmer and TV presenter, Adam Henson. Born into a farming family, Adam gained experience with animals and farming from an early age, before going on to achieve an HND in Agriculture at College in Devon.

Having succeeded his father as tenant of Bemborough Farm, Adam now runs the 650-hectare estate with business partner Duncan Andrews, growing wheat, spring barley and oilseed rape, alongside a flock of 350 commercial ewes. They also run the Cotswold Farm Park which pioneers rare breed conservation.  Set up in 1971 by Adam’s father, this award-winning tourist attraction now welcomes over 100,000 visitors a year.

Adam began his television career in 2001, when he was chosen from 3,500 applicants to be a presenter for BBC Countryfile, and has since put his farming knowledge to good use, appearing on a wide range of radio and TV programmes.

Finalists in the 2017 Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards are vying for 13 categories, including: agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation industries, as well as the Modern Apprentice of the Year, Rural Schools, Higher Education and CARAS Awards.

The top accolades of the night will be the much coveted Overall Winner and Runner-up. Last year’s winner was talented young gamekeeper and Shinty player, Savio Genini, with Trees and Timber apprentice Sean Donaghy taking the runner-up spot. These awards recognise learners with exceptional talent and willingness to learn and are amongst the most prestigious in the country.

The Modern Apprentice of the Year and the winners of the prestigious CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) awards will also be announced on the night. CARAS was established by the UK’s four national agricultural societies, including the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland. It aims to recognise, through an awards scheme, distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries.

A newcomer to the Lantra event in 2017 will be the Tam Tod Trophy, awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner. The award was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.

Jean’s Jam Award, now in its third year, will also be announced on the night. Donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello, this award recognises the most inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer. It was won last year by Scott Mason of Stirling Council Fisheries.


The finalists for the 2017 learner of the year awards were chosen by a judging panel of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sectors. The 2017 judges are: Ray Jones, former Chairman of Scotland Food & Drink, agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay, Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland, farmer Keith Redpath, Lisa Connell of The Scottish Salmon Company and Rebecca Dawes of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs.


The finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2017 are:

·         Alasdair Davidsonfrom Fort William, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 in Gamekeeping through North Highland College UHI, while working as an Apprentice Gamekeeper at Conaglen Estate;

·         Brooke McKenzie from Croftfoot in Glasgow, is undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 in Horticulture at the Daldowie Training Centre, while working for the Southside Housing Association in Glasgow;

·         Cherise Halliburton from Jedburgh, is doing an SVQ Level 3 in Horse Care at Borders College;

·         Emma Staniforth from Dumfries, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 and 3 in General Woodland and Treework with Forest Enterprise Scotland;

·         Fraser MacDonald from Newtonmore in Invernesshire, is undertaking a Game and Wildlife Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 through North Highland College UHI, whilst working as a trainee gamekeeper at Glenshero Estate;

·         Gill Walker originally from Balfron and now living in Glasgow, has been doing SVQ Level 2 in Environmental Conservation through the Cairngorms Outdoors Access Trust near Balloch;

·         Jack Fraser from Caol, Fort William, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 and 3 in Aquaculture through Inverness College UHI, while working as an Assistant Manager at Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd in Fort William;

·         Jakob Eunson from Shetland, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Livestock Production through Train Shetland, while working at Uradale Farm in Scalloway;

·         John Blance from Lerwick in Shetland, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Aquaculture at NAFC Marine Centre, while working as a Fish Technician at Grieg Seafood;

·         John Boyd from Port Glasgow, is doing an SVQ Level 2 in Horticulture through Glasgow Clyde College and working as a gardener for In-Work Enterprise;

·         Karla Purves from Selkirk, is undertaking an SVQ Level 3 in Horse Care at Borders College;

·         Kati Michalek originally from Germany and now living in Oban, is doing a PhD in Shellfish Aquaculture at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban;

·         Katie Dubarryfrom Edinburgh, is doing a BSc in Agriculture at SRUC Oatridge Campus in West Lothian;

·         Matt Lingard from Inverlochy, Fort William, is doing an SVQ Level 2 in Trees and Timber with Forest Enterprise Scotland while working as a Forest Craftsperson;

·         Matthew Douglas from Hawick, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Mixed Farming through Borders College, while working at Harwood on Teviot for WS Davies and Son;

·         Megan Simpson from Aberfoyle, has done an HND in Equine Studies at SRUC Oatridge Campus;

·         Stephen Moore from Inverkip, Greenock, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 and 3 in Land-based Engineering through SRUC Oatridge Campus, while working as an Apprentice Engineer for Hamilton Brothers in Bishopton;

·         Stuart McKinlay from Stirling, is undertaking an SVQ in Environmental Conservation at SRUC Oatridge, while working as an Apprentice Fisheries Bailiff at Stirling Council Fisheries;

·         Thomas Perfect from Penrith in Cumbria, is doing an Advanced Certificate in Land-based Technology at SRUC Barony Campus, while working as an Agricultural Engineer Apprentice at Rickerby Ltd in Penrith.

Kevin Patrick, Director of Lantra Scotland commented:

“We are delighted to announce our finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2017 and are extremely grateful to the independent panel of judges and to the training providers and employers for all their hard work. These awards continue to play an important role in communicating and celebrating the value of gaining qualifications, developing skills and improving standards. All of our nominees, whether selected as finalists or not, should be extremely proud of their achievements and we all look forward to celebrating their success in the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 2nd March.”

Ray Jones, Chairman Scotland chair of the judges, said:

“Every year the judges are inspired by the enthusiasm, vitality and determination to succeed that our candidates demonstrate. These learners can be going into difficult employment markets and being a finalist or even getting nominated in Lantra’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year awards can help them get a foothold into a long-term and rewarding career.”

Tickets for the evening are available from Lantra on 01738 310164 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . See

Lantra Scotland is on Twitter and Facebook as @LantraScotland.



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