On Thursday 6th March 2014, Lantra Scotland’s eleventh Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards took place at the Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel in Scotland.
The glittering award ceremony and gala dinner was attended by over 150 guests from across industry, education and government. Key dignitaries and industry figures speaking at the awards included Angela Constance, MSP and Scottish Minister for Youth Employment, Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, Ray Jones, Chairman of Scotland Food & Drink and James Withers, CEO of Scotland Food & Drink, marking what has been the most successful awards to date.
A total of 26 awards were presented across 13 categories, including the overall winner and runner up of the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Award 2013, winners of the Council of Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies Award, winner of the Modern Apprenticeship of the Year Award 2013, winners and runners up of The Higher Education Learner of the Year Award 2013, winners of the Rural and Urban Secondary Schools Award, and winners and runners up of seven industry awards across the trees and timber, agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game & wildlife and land-based engineering industries.
Among the many highlights was the announcement of the overall winner and runner up of the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Award 2013. This year the award was won by Andrew Roberts, a talented trainee undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Trees and Timber with the Forestry Commission. Andrew also won the Trees and Timber Learner of the Year Award 2013.
Andrew was delighted at receiving his awards commenting:
“I am so happy to have won two major awards, including the overall winner Land-based Learner of the Year 2013. I feel this award will be a major help in my future career, giving me the ideal starting block to progress up the ladder in the forest industry. My plan in the future is to complete my level 3 SVQ in Trees and Timber, then I hope to proceed into further employment within the Forestry Commission. After this I would like to develop my learning and take part in further education within my job, expanding my knowledge and qualifications and letting me advance within the forest industry.”
Award Nominator, Denis Coy, Operations Forester Harvesting, Forestry Commission Scotland comments:
“We nominated Andrew due to his enthusiasm and his passion for the land-based industry. Over the last 18 months, he has displayed drive and determination in all aspects of his work and has achieved a great deal as a participant on the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme (MA). The Forestry Commission recognises the benefit of employing Modern Apprentices to its business as they bring a fresh impetus to the work that we do and our current staff. Consequently, our recruitment programme seeks to find people who can demonstrate a genuine interest in the land-based industries and show a desire, commitment and willingness to learn. The Forestry Commission Scotland's Skills Programme seeks to nurture and develop these intrinsic qualities and values so individuals can develop and contribute to our industry in the future.”
Gary Kilbride was Overall Runner-Up Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year, as well as winner of the Horticulture Learner of the Year Award 2013, and one of the four winners of the Council of Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies Award (CARAS). Gary is undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Parks, Gardens & Greenspace with Glasgow City Council.
Gary was absolutely delighted to receive three awards commenting:
“I’m delighted to pick up two awards at this year’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. A special thanks goes out to the award organisers LANTRA, my employers at Glasgow City Council and associates and partners at Urban Roots. All the training I have received along the way, including Modern Apprenticeship Programme, has been incredibly helpful to me, providing me with all skills, knowledge and practical learning I need to progress in my chosen career. Hopefully I will be able to take these skills and apply them to my life. I am looking to further develop myself by working on community garden/allotment projects in Castlemilk, and passingon my knowledge to others. I am doing this as voluntary work at the weekends, as I believe this is important and I really enjoy gardening and helping others.”
The prestigious Council of Award of Royal Agricultural Societies Award (CARAS), sponsored by CARAS Scotland, was also presented on the evening. Due to the high quality of finalists short-listed for the award, the judging panel chose four talented winners; Lynn Munro, Simon MacLellan, Gary Kilbride and Douglas Dowling. This is the first time the CARAS award has produced four winners, and is testament to the increasing quality of trainees put forward for nomination.
This year also saw the introduction of the new Rural and Urban Secondary Schools Award. The Rural Award was won by Wallace Hall Academy in Dumfries and Galloway, with Glasgow’s Linburn Academy taking the Urban Schools Award.
The Higher Education Learner of the Year Award 2013 was won by Lynn Munro with Daniel Brown taking the runner up spot. Finally the Land-based Curriculum for Schools Learner of the Year award 2013 was won by Fraser Lothian.
Angela Constance, Minister for Youth Employment said: “I congratulate all of the award nominees. As well as recognising the incredible achievements of all of the young people here, I think it is also important to note how supportive the different industries and sectors – from aquaculture to engineering – are to the success of these awards. All of the participants have highlighted the benefits of making young people your business, be it in land, aquaculture or beyond and I hope that more employers will follow their lead.”
James Withers, CEO of Scotland Food & Drink and the awards key-note speaker, was highly impressed with the quality of the winners and stressed the importance of skills investment and training. He commented:
“The Lantra Awards recognise the best talent in the land-based and aquaculture sectors and I would like to congratulate all the finalists. As an industry we are committed to investing in the skills training and development of our people and it is crucial that we continue to support and encourage new entrants. Scotland’s land-based and aquaculture sectors have a world class reputation both at home and abroad. These awards provide a fantastic platform to celebrate the outstanding achievements of a new generation who are critical to the growth of the industry and will be key in achieving our target of a food and drink industry worth £16.5bn by 2017.”
William Fergusson, Regional Director Lantra Scotland comments:
“A huge congratulations goes out to all the finalists who have demonstrated a real passion and sense of dedication during their training, with many already well on their way to a successful career in the land-based and aquaculture industries. These awards play a vital role in helping industry identify and recognise the very best talent within our land-based and aquaculture sectors, as well as celebrating the commitment of young people who are dedicated to developing their skills and knowledge to the very highest level. It is critical to the future of our industries and the wider Scottish economy that we continue to invest in skills training and development, and encourage and support new entrants coming into the industry.”
This year’s major award sponsors were Marine Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Marine Harvest, The Scottish Salmon Company and Forestry Commission Scotland. The awards have also been generously supported by a number of key stakeholders and employers from across Scotland who sponsored tables, award categories and prizes.
The judging panel included; Ray Jones, Chairman Scotland Food and Drink; Lisa Connell, Training & Development Manager; Scottish Salmon Company; Rebecca Dawes, Communications and Rural Affairs Manager, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs; Erika Hay, Freelance Farming Journalist and Consultant; Peter Alexander, Algo Blairgowrie Ltd and Keith Paterson, Forestry Commission Scotland.