Jakob Eunson, a talented young farming apprentice from East Voe in Shetland, has won the Agriculture category at Lantra Scotland’s annual Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. The runner-up spotwent to Matthew Douglas from Hawick. Matthew and Katie Dubarry were also joint winners of the prestigious CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Award. Stephen Moore from Inverkip, won the Land-based Engineering Award just ahead of Thomas Perfect from Cumbria, who was runner-up.
The awards were presented to trainees at the glittering ceremony and gala dinner in Dunblane by farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson on Thursday 2nd March. Speaking at the event, Adam reminded the audience of the importance of fostering new talent and investing in skills to ensure a lasting future for Scotland’s food and drink sector and the wider rural economy.
Adam commented: “I’ve really enjoyed presenting these awards and meeting Scotland’s top trainees and learners from the land-based and aquaculture sector.
“It’s inspiring to see such talented people getting the support of employers and training providers as they start their careers within these key industries.
“As well as congratulating everyone nominated for Lantra’s learner of the year awards, I’d particularly like say well done to the winners and the runners-up. It really is a fantastic achievement and I’m sure winning these awards will be great for their prospects and their self-confidence.”
Jakob, aged 19 from East Voe, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Livestock Production through Train Shetland, while working as an apprentice farmer at Uradale Farm in Scalloway. His ambition is to create an innovative ‘production to retail’ business, raising livestock which he butchers and sells on to his customers via a retail outlet. In addition to identifying retail opportunities, he has worked hard to develop his customer skills, selling his produce at shops and food fairs across the country.
Jacok said: “Thank you Lantra Scotland for this award, I will cherish it for a very long time. I’d also like to thank my nominator and tutor Janice Leask from Train Shetland, my teacher Ronnie Hattle, everyone at SRUC Barony who has helped me, my father Ronnie Eunson and all the rest of my family. Without them, noneof this would be possible.”
Janice Leask, Train Shetland said:“Jakob has been doing his Modern Apprenticeship with support from SRUC and his lecturers have been impressed with his dedication, motivation and hard work. He has been in touch with them outside college to get advice and clarification on his studies so is prepared to take the initiative and deepen his learning. I’m sure this will put him in good stead for the future.”
Stephen Moore,aged 24, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 and 3 in Land-based Engineering at SRUC Oatridge Campus, while working as an apprentice engineer for Hamilton Brothers in Bishopton. Having already won Apprentice of the Year for his campus at SRUC Oatridge, Stephen is keen to build up his experience in land-based engineering, before taking on a role as field service engineer.
Stephen said: “Thank you Lantra Scotland for this award. Winning it means a lot to me and I hope it will help me make a success of my career in land-based service engineering. Thank you also to my employer Ken Smyth from Hamilton Brothers Ltd and my tutor Hilary Morton of SRUC.”
Ken Smyth, Hamilton Brothers Ltd said: “Stephen started as a workshop assistant and soon proved himself useful helping other staff with repairs. In no time we noticed that when he wasn’t working he was missed. He is now an essential member of staff.”
21-year-old Matthew,from Hawick, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Mixed Farming through Borders College, while employed as a general farm worker at Harwood on Teviot with WS Davies and Son. In the next few years, he plans to work in New Zealand to broaden his skills and knowledge of agriculture. Matthew is also a talented rugby player, having represented Hawick and Newcastle Falcons as an academy player.
20-year-old Thomas Perfect, from Penrith in Cumbria, has been doing an Advanced Certificate in Land-based Technology at SRUC Barony Campus, while working as an agricultural engineering apprentice at Rickerby Ltd in Penrith. Coming from an agricultural background, Tom has always had a keen interest in agricultural engineering. He is regularly the highest achiever in his year and recently won the Claas prize for being the best apprentice within the group.
Katie, aged 32from Edinburgh, is doing a BSc in Agriculture at SRUC Oatridge Campus in West Lothian. Having worked as a beauty therapist for 10 years, Katie decided to start a new career in agriculture after attending an open day at SRUC. She plans to continue her studies, possibly to post-graduate level, before working in a specialist or research role in livestock welfare, nutrition or organic production.
The Learner of the Year Awards were organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, and play a vital role in celebrating the achievements of trainees within Scotland’s rural sector and in encouraging employers to invest in the next generation of talent.
As well as friends and relatives of the finalists, other guests were representing training organisations, employers and industry bodies.
Categories for the 2017 awards included the Overall Winner and Runner-up, the prestigious CARAS awards, the Modern Apprentice of the Year, the Higher Education Award, the Rural Schools Award, Jean’s Jam and the Tam Tod Trophy. Industry awards were made in trees and timber, agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation categories.
Kevin Patrick, Director of Lantra Scotland comments:
“Our awards recognise the achievements of Scotland’s top learners, their employers and training providers, and highlight the important contribution they make to our economy, particularly in rural areas.
“Land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries offer a wide range of rewarding career opportunities and our prestigious event celebrates the hard work and incredible talents of everyone involved.
“We are very grateful to have the generous support of our main sponsor, Skills Development Scotland, and to: Aberdeenshire Council, BAGMA, Buccleuch, Carrs Billington, Easterton Stables, Elspeth Watson, George Linton Memorial Trust, Marine Harvest, National Farmers Union Scotland, Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, the Scottish Forest & Timber Technologies Skills Group, Scottish Sea Farms, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Scottish Salmon Company, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation and SRUC.
“Thanks also to the independent judging panel, chaired by Ray Jones, formerly of Scotland Food & Drink, and to our host for the evening, Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland”.