Learner of the year winners from 2018

A select group of the country’s top trainees have been named as finalists in Lantra Scotland’s much-anticipated Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. The 24 talented apprentices and trainees who have made the shortlist will find out if they have won at a prestigious gala dinner and award ceremony on Thursday 7th March at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro.

Lantra Scotland is the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries, and the awards play a vital role in promoting careers within the rural sector, celebrating the achievements of learners and highlighting the importance to employers of investing in skills.

MC and host for the evening will be well-known Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith.

Last year’s overall winner, Megan Rowland, will talk about the difference the award has made to her career and her role as one of Lantra’s industry champions.

The awards include categories for the agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering and environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year and CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Awards.

The CARAS Award was established by the UK’s four national agricultural societies, including the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). It aims to recognise, through an awards scheme, distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries. RHASS also supports an award for secondary schools.

The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the Learner of the Year Overall Winner. This goes to an outstanding trainee who has demonstrated exceptional ability, hard work and a passion for their industry.

The Tam Tod Trophy will be awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner. The trophy 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 will also be making a return. The award recognises an inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer and was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello.

The finalists for the 2019 learner of the year awards were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector: Agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay, Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland, farmer Keith Redpath, former agricultural banker Jimmy McLean; Lisa Connell of The Scottish Salmon Company and Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing.

The finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2019 are as follows:

Aimee MacRae, from Bothwell near Glasgow 

Amy Park, from Hawick

Andrew Richardson, originally from Skye

Andy Oldham, from Aberfeldy

Billy Welsh, from Stromness in Orkney

Calum Melrose, from Livingston

Cameron MacLean, from Islay

Ceara-Marie Law, from Manchester

Chloe Reid, from Beith

Don Martin, from Blairgowrie

Erica Taylor, from Kellas by Dundee

Harry Hamlin-Wright, from Perth

Isla Campbell, from Strathpeffer

Jack Burton, from Windygates in Fife

Janis Brivkalns, from Dunoon

Kyle Baker, from Glenrothes

Lauren Attwood, from Auchterarder

Lauryn Penman, from Lochgelly in Fife

Louise Main, from Dumfries

Luke Taylor, from Livingston

Ross Yuile, from Glasgow

Stuart Hynds, from Edinburgh

Toni Lamont, from Ardrossan in Ayrshire

Tyler Tovey, from East Calder

William Muir, from Stewarton in Ayrshire

Liz Barron-Majerik, Director of Lantra Scotland commented: “We’re delighted to announce the finalists for our 2019 Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. As well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants to our sector, the awards play a key role in promoting the importance of gaining qualifications and developing skills, for both trainees and their employers.

Everyone who was nominated, whether a finalist or not, should be extremely proud of this recognition, and we look forward to celebrating their success at our ceremony in the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 7th March. We are very grateful to the independent panel of judges, to training providers and to the employers for contributions, and of course to all of our generous event sponsors.”

Erika Hay, chair of the independent judging panel, said: “As in previous years, we’ve been very impressed with the quality of people nominated for Lantra’s awards, and it’s been a privilege to meet them. We know how much it means to finalists to get to this stage of the awards, as it’s a great boost for their self-confidence and demonstrates their potential to the rest of the sector. There’s a real depth of talent and enthusiasm coming through across the country, and that can only be a good thing for Scotland’s rural economy.”

Since the awards were launched in 2004, there have been over 1000 nominees and 300 finalists.

Tickets for the evening are available from Lantra on 01738 310164 or scotland@lantra.co.uk.

Lantra’s work in Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government.