3 shortlisted for Lantra Learner of the Year

3 shortlisted for Lantra Learner of the Year

Equine trainees Cherise Halliburton, Karla Purves and Megan Simpson, have all been short-listed for Lantra Scotland’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards and will find out if they have won at a glittering ceremony at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday 2nd March 2017.

19-year-old Cherise, from Jedburgh, is doing an SVQ Level 3 in Horse Care through Borders College. She was voted best Level 2 student despite breaking her leg towards the end of the term and her ambitions are to complete her Level 3, take part in eventing competitions as well as work as freelance Horse Care professional. A real highlight for her at college was having the opportunity to look after horses belonging to Olympian Ian Stark. Cherise Halliburton

Cherise said: “When I got a text from mum asking if I could phone her as soon as I was out of college, I thought something was wrong. But once I got through she told me I had two tickets to Dunblane Hydro for the Lantra awards ceremony. After that I just ran across the yard to my tutor Alison and told her my fantastic news. I wasn’t expecting to get through to the final, but now I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really glad I was nominated, it’s a real boost to my confidence.”

Karla, aged 19 from Selkirk, is also taking her SVQ Level 3 in Horse Karla PurvesCare through Borders College. She won best student for her Level 1 and 2 courses and was awarded a Saltire Volunteering Award for completing 500 hours with Stable Life. She is a peer mentor for Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and her burning desire is to compete on one of the horse she has looked after.

Karla said: “It’s great to get through to the final. I was kind of shocked to be nominated, but now I’m proud to have got this far. My tutor Alison has been brilliant, always encouraging us to do extra things outside college and I’m now really excited about going along to the awards.”

Megan, aged 20 from Aberfoyle, has completed an HNC and HND in Equine Studies at SRUC Oatridge Campus. She was also awarded the ‘Best Student’ prize for both courses. Megan achieved her UKCC Level 1 coaching qualification during her HND year and her tutors say that her excellent communication skills and passMegan Simpsonion for horses make her ideally suited to a coaching role. She has a particular interest in Equine Shiatsu therapy.

Megan said: “I was delighted to find out I'd been nominated and over the moon to get through as a finalist for the Lantra awards. I've had outstanding support from my lecturers at SRUC and I’m now really looking forward to the ceremony in March.”

The Learner of the Year Awards, organised by Lantra Scotland, sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, 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 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 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 prizes. Last year’s winner was talented young game keeper 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.

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 scotland@lantra.co.uk. See www.lantra.co.uk/Scotland/tickets Lantra Scotland is on Twitter and Facebook as @LantraScotland.