The achievements of Scotland’s top land-based and aquaculture trainees were celebrated last night (Thursday 3rd March) at Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills).
Having taken place as a virtual event last year due to Covid restrictions, the ALBAS returned with a glittering ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dunblane Hydro, with over 180 finalists, event supporters, employers, training providers and industry leaders including the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon.
Ms Gougeon said: “What a great night spent honouring some hardworking and inspiring people across Scotland’s land-based and aquaculture sectors. I just want to put on record what a truly spectacular group of individuals we have in the finalists and winners. I’m so proud to see the incredible work they are already doing and look forward to seeing them all continue in their careers.”
Sheep farmer and social media star Cammy Wilson presented the winners and runners-up awards for agriculture, aquaculture, equine, environmental conservation, game and wildlife, horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber.
As well as prizes for Overall Winner, Runner-up and Modern Apprentice of the Year, there were also awards for Higher Education, School Pupil and Secondary Schools, CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies), Jean’s Jam for inspirational tutor, the Tam Tod Trophy for outstanding young learner, and the Anna Murray Award for Partnership Working.
The winners and runners-up for ALBAS 2022 were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector, chaired by Keith Paterson of Forestry and Land Scotland.
One of the highlights of the evening was Game and Wildlife trainee Rory Donaldson winning the Overall Winner Award, the highest accolade of the night. Rory also won Game and Wildlife industry category.
Rory, aged 17 from Comrie in Perthshire, has completed a National Certificate in Gamekeeping at Drummond Estates through SRUC Elmwood Campus in Fife.
He said: “I can’t quite believe I’ve won two ALBAS awards and to be chosen as overall winner is incredible. It’s a great feeling and humbling to be recognised like this. A big thank you to Drummond Estate, Glenartney, Jim Goodlad (SRUC), my family and everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Overall Runner-up was aquaculture apprentice Derek Ferguson, who also won the Higher Education Award (SCQF 9+). Derek, aged 33 from the Shetland Islands, is doing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management at Grieg Seafood through Shetland UHI.
He said: “It’s been a great evening, and to come away with a Higher Education Award is fantastic. Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way.”
The winner of the prestigious CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) awards was Alicja Blaszczyk, aged 24 from Ormiston in East Lothian, who has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in General Agriculture at George Brown & Sons through Borders College. Alicja also won the Modern Apprentice of the Year Award and the agriculture industry category.
CARAS awards were established by the UK’s four national agricultural societies, including the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) to recognise distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries.
RHASS also supports a Secondary Schools Award in recognition of schools with exceptional standards in rural skills training. This year the award had joint winners, Wallace Hall Academy in Dumfries and Galloway and The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. Wallace Hall won for their WHApples Community Orchard project, which involves students producing vegetables and fruit for use in the Home Economics department while learning about recycling.
Pupils at The Nicolson Institute developed a garden area where they could relax, take time-out and reflect, using plants and water to calm the senses. They have gained an understanding of mental health issues and are learning the benefits of talking or just sitting in silence.
The Anna Murray Partnership Working Award went to Tilhill and Borders College for their inspiring work delivering exciting forestry based educational training and experiences to secondary school youngsters. The partnership aims to inspire young people to become the new generation of foresters to plant, maintain and manage forests.
Jean’s Jam Award, for an inspiring mentor or trainer, went to Neil Stewart, who works at the Scottish School of Forestry, Inverness College UHI, and who is also a volunteer for Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes.
ALBAS 2022 winners and runners-up:
- ALBAS Overall Winner
- Rory Donaldson (17 Comrie)
- ALBAS Overall Runner-up
- Derek Ferguson (33 Shetland Islands)
- Modern Apprentice of the Year
- Alicja Blaszczyk (24 East Lothian)
- Agriculture Learner of the Year
- Winner: Alicja Blaszczyk (24 East Lothian)
- Runner-up: William Yuille (17 Hollybush in Ayr)
- Aquaculture Learner of the Year
- Winner: Emmanuelle Rey (43 Glendevon, Dollar)
Runner-up: Emily Underhill (27 Oban)
- Equine Learner of the Year
- Winner: Caroline von Linden (42 Maybole in South Ayrshire)
- Runner-up: Stephanie Wharrie (30 Overton in Wishaw)
- Game and Wildlife Learner of the Year
- Winner: Rory Donaldson (17 Comrie)
Runner-up: Logan Bainbridge (17 Tarbet in Argyll and Bute)
- Horticulture Learner of the Year
- Winner: Eloise Fenton (28 Shawhill in Glasgow)
Runner-up: Natalia Reifart-Bieganowska (34 Paisley)
- Land-based Engineering Learner of the Year
- Winner: Martin Young (20 Insch in Aberdeenshire)
Runner-up: Craig Farmer (24 East Kilbride)
- Trees and Timber Learner of the Year
- Winner: Rachel Orchard (23 Banchory in Aberdeenshire)
Runner-up: Victoria Potts (24 Banchory in Aberdeenshire)
- Higher Education Award
- SCQF Level 9+: Derek Ferguson (33 Shetland Islands)
- SCQF Level 8: Charlotte Martin (49 Lanark)
- SCQF Level 7: Daisy Wright (36 Edinburgh)
- Secondary Schools Award
- Joint Winner: Wallace Hall Academy (Dumfries and Galloway)
- Joint Winner: The Nicolson Institute (Stornoway)
- School Pupil Award
- Joint Winners: Brogan Noble (15) and Ellen Anderson (16) both from Meldrum Academy in Aberdeenshire
- Anna Murray Partnership Working Award
- Winner: Tilhill and Borders College (Borders)
- CARAS Award Winner:
- Alicja Blaszczyk (24 East Lothian)
- Jean’s Jam Award
- Winner: Neil Stewart (From Ardersier)
- Tam Tod Trophy
- Winner: Logan Bainbridge (17 Tarbet in Argyll and Bute)
The ALBAS are organised by Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries.
According to Liz Barron-Majerik, Scotland Director, Lantra, the awards recognise the success of trainees in Scotland’s rural sector, while also encouraging employers to think about the future workforce.
She continued: “It has been inspirational to meet tonight’s finalists, who are all a credit to our rural industries. We have again had some fantastic entries for the ALBAS, and everyone who was nominated should be very proud of their achievements.
This time last year the ALBAS were very different, but I’m delighted we’re able to return to a real-life event again and honour Scotland’s top learners.
Our awards can only take place because of the huge amount of unpaid time that Keith Paterson and his team of independent judges put in, reviewing the nominations and interviewing short-listed candidates.
I’d also like to thank all our generous supporters, especially Skills Development Scotland, without whom the ALBAS would not be possible. We are grateful to all those who have helped, including: Andy Murray, BAGMA, Bell Ingram, Elspeth Watson, Equido Horsemanship, Marine Scotland, NatureScot, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, SAOS, Scottish Forest and Timber Technologies ILG, Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Salmon Company, Skills Development Scotland, SQA, SRUC and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre”.
To find out more about the ALBAS, visit www.scotland.lantra.co.uk/learner-year