Two ‘superb’ Suffolk farm apprentices share top spot at awards
PUBLISHED: 13:53 31 May 2019
Two agricultural apprentices shone through in a competition to find Suffolk’s most promising future farming leaders.
Liam Robinson, of Rattlerow Farms, near Eye, and George Leonard, of Home Farm Nacton, were crowned joint winners of the Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year contest, and were presented with their awards at the Suffolk Show.
The annual competition was launched in 2015 thanks to a collaboration between Easton and Otley College, Fram Farmers and Suffolk Agricultural Association.
Nicola Currie, apprenticeship ambassador at Easton and Otley College, said the calibre of both meant they were unable to choose an outright winner. "Liam and George are exceptional candidates at the start of their careers.
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"Neither of them come from farming backgrounds but both of them are superb employees who have made a great impact at their places of work. So for 2019 we have a livestock and an arable Suffolk Apprentice of the Year."
Judge Tim Styles, chief operating officer at Fram Farmers, said: "There is a shortage of people choosing agriculture as a career, despite the excellent wages on offer. Sadly, too many schools do not understand agriculture, under estimating the technical competences needed so it was really encouraging to interview a short list of six apprentices for this year's competition. Fram Farmers are pleased to sponsor this award as it helps to promote exactly the sort of high calibre talent that our members need."
Philip Ainsworth, chief executive of Suffolk Agricultural Association, said: "The 2019 winners have really helped demonstrate the quality of talent that is being brought into the industry via agricultural apprenticeships."
Liam, aged 16, had no previous farming experience before starting his apprenticeship. "I am new to the industry so winning this award will definitely help me in the future. I wanted to get into farming as I like working with the animals and it (farming) seems to come naturally to me," he said.
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"I'd say to those who are thinking about getting into the industry - If you want to do it, get involved. Now I'm working in agriculture my view has changed for the better."
George, aged 20, who decided on an apprenticeship rather than going to university, impressed the judges with his knowledge of cropping techniques, irrigation and machinery maintenance. "I've got no regrets about this route rather than university. Winning this award was great as it has shown me that I have got to where I want to be since getting this job. I'd like to think this award will help me in the future and it will certainly look good on the CV," he said.
Farm manager Andrew Williams of Home Farm Nacton, said: "George is not from a farming background and he has just thrown himself into it and picked things up quickly. We are all really proud of him."
As well as a trophy the winners are each receiving a cheque for £100 along with a voucher to cover the cost of a work-based training certificate such chainsaw operative.