Some of the country’s top land-based and aquaculture learners have been named as finalists in the Lantra Scotland Learner of the Year Awards 2015.
Organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, the awards celebrate the achievements of learners of all ages, and will take place at a ceremony and gala dinner in the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday 5th March.
Guests at the high profile event will include training providers, modern apprentices, employers and key representatives from across the sector. Finalists were chosen from what has been described as a group of exceptionally talented nominees, with standards continuing to rise across the board.
The main sponsor for the event is the Scottish Salmon Company, and this year there are more categories on offer than ever before, including the prestigious CARAS Awards, the Overall Winnerfor theLand-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Award and the Modern Apprentice of the Year Award. There are also eight industry awards covering all the key sectors, from agriculture, aquaculture and equine, to horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation. The highly successful Urban and Rural Schools Awards make a return, as well as the Higher Education Award and School Pupil Award.
The independent panel of judges is chaired by Ray Jones, former Chairman of Scotland Food and Drink, and comprises: Erika Hay, agriculture and rural affairs journalist; Keith Paterson, Learning and Development Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland; Keith Redpath, of Redpath Farms; Lisa Connell, Training & Development Manager with The Scottish Salmon Company and Rebecca Dawes, Communication & Rural Affairs Manager with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs. Peter Alexander, a Blairgowrie farmer and Non-Executive Director of Algo, recently retired from the judging panel after eleven years involvement in the awards.
The finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2015 are:
Agriculture Learner of the Year:
· Ruairidh MacKinnon,aged 19, from Oban in Argyll, has completed his Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Agriculture at SRUC Oatridge, and is currently working at D & J MacGillivray;
· Ryan Paxton, aged 20 from Selkirk, Scottish Borders, has completed his Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in mixed farming at Buccleuch Estates and Borders College;
Aquaculture Learner of the Year:
· Andrew Moore,aged 28 from Taynuilt in Argyll, has completed his Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Aquaculture with Dawnfresh Farming Ltd;
· Stuart Simon,aged 27 from Dunoon, Argyll, is studying for a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Aquaculture at Inverness College UHI and working with the Scottish Salmon Company;
Equine Learner of the Year:
· Natalie Crombie,aged 18 from Tweedbank, Galashiels, has completed her Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Horse Care also at Border College, while working at Ian Stark Equestrian Centre;
· Chelsea Scobbie,aged 19 from Duns in Berwickshire, has completed her Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Horse Care at Borders College and Stable Life;
Fisheries Management and Environmental Conservation Award:
· Ryan Binnie,aged 18 from Stirling, is also studying for a Modern ApprenticeshipLevel 2 in Environmental Conservation at SRUC Oatridge and Stirling Council Fisheries;
· Ryan Walker,aged 21 from Stirling, is studying for a Modern Apprenticeship Level 2 in Environmental Conservation at SRUC Oatridge and Stirling Council Fisheries;
Game and Wildlife Learner of the Year:
· Mary Bowman,aged 20 from Ballater, has completed a National Certificate in Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management at Balmoral Estates with North Highland College;
· Callum Fraser Low,aged 19 from Arbroath, Angus has recently completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 2 in Gamekeeping with North Highland College while working at Dalhousie Estates;
Horticulture Learner of the Year:
· Jason Wright:aged 25 from Forres in Invernesshire, has completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 1, 2, 3, in Horticulture at Moray College and is now running his own horticulture business, Garden Wright;
· Claire Young,aged 39 from Lochgilphead, is undertaking a National Certificate in Horticulture with Argyll College UHI;
Land-based Service Engineering Learner of the Year:
· Fraser MacLean,aged 24 from the Isle of Tiree has recently completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Land-based Engineering at SRUC Barony while working at CAM Engineering;
· Iain MacNaughton,aged 21 from Cumberland Village, Glasgow, has completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 2 in Land-based Engineering at SRUC Oatridge College and is currently working at Thistle Ground Care Equipment in Lanarkshire;
Trees and Timber Learner of the Year:
· Heather Forbes,aged 32 from Conon Bridge, Ross-shire, has completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 2 and 3 in Trees and Timber with the Forestry Commission Scotland.
· Lesley Stalker,aged 27 from Springburn, Glasgow, has completed a Modern Apprenticeship Level 2 and 3 in Trees and Timber with the Forestry Commission Scotland;
Higher Education Award:
· Ewan Batchelor,aged 29 from Nairn in the Highlands, is studying an HND in Forestry with the Scottish School of Forestry at Inverness College UHI while working with the Forestry Commission Scotland;
· Ewan Lambie, aged 18 from Auchterarder, is currently studying for a National Certificate in Agriculture at SRUC Oatridge Campus;
School Pupil Award:
· Kyle Bell, aged 15 from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, is currently doing a Rural Skills for Work course at Borders College;
· Kelly Crawford, aged 16 from Lochgilphead, has completed a Rural Skills for Work course at Argyll College UHI;
Kevin Patrick, Interim Director Lantra Scotland comments:
“We are delighted to announce our finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2015 and are extremely grateful to the independent panel of judges 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. This year the standard of award entrants was exceptionally high, which is making the process of choosing our finalists an increasing challenge for the judges. We are also receiving nominations from a growing pool of employers and training providers, which suggests an increasing realisation of the importance of supporting and celebrating our future generation of talent. All of the nominees, whether selected as finalists in 2015 or not, should be extremely proud of their work and I really look forward to celebrating their achievements in Dunblane on Thursday 5th March”.
Ray Jones, Chairman Scotland chair of the judges, comments:
“Winning a prize in the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards puts a person in the best of the best category. The judging this year has been extremely challenging due to the high quality of modern apprentices coming through the system. This is a tribute to the individuals, their employers and the staff at various colleges throughout Scotland.”
Craig Anderson, Managing Director at The Scottish Salmon Company, the awards main sponsor, said:
“We have been involved with LANTRA for the past number of years and we are very proud to be the main sponsor of this year’s event. Training and development of staff is an integral part of The Scottish Salmon Company and, we believe, that by improving the quality of training offered to those in the land-based and aquaculture industries LANTRAhelps to reduce the current skills gap.
“The standard of this year’s finalists is particularly high and is reflective of the strength and talent of the workforce across both the land-based and aquaculture industries in Scotland. Best wishes to all finalists for this year’s awards.” said Craig Anderson, Managing Director at The Scottish Salmon Company.”
A number of awards will be announced on the night of the ceremony, including the Overall Winner, the Overall Runner-up, the Modern Apprentice of the year and the winners of the prestigious CARAS awards.