Farm apprentice of the year has high hopes for future

Suffolk agricultural apprentice of the year Olly Spiers with David Barker of the Suffolk Agricultural Association

Suffolk agricultural apprentice of the year Olly Spiers, receiving his award from David Barker of the Suffolk Agricultural Association - Credit: Suffolk Rural

Suffolk's agricultural apprentice of the year has been crowned at a ceremony celebrating the next generation of farm leaders.

Olly Spiers, 20, who works for the Spearhead Group and Deben Farms near Shottisham, won the award at the presentation event held at Suffolk Rural college (formerly Otley College).

The competition, now in its fifth year, aims to shine a light on the diverse careers possible within farming, while also highlighting the importance of agricultural apprenticeships to young people.

This year's winner, from Badlingham in Cambridgeshire, said: “I originally started A-levels and was all set for university. However, my dad fell ill so I decided to stay closer to home and study on an apprenticeship.

“It’s really suited me and it’s a great way to learn on the job and get the skills I need.

“I’ve had great support from the college and although I was a bit surprised to win, I think the award will back up my ambitions to own a farm myself one day.”

The runner-up was 17-year-old Tom Reily from Elmsett, who works for Marst Agri having originally been at Brad Farm Machinery in Hadleigh. 

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The level three agricultural engineering apprentice said: “I chose to study on an apprenticeship as you get more hands-on experience and this helps you get a full understanding of the industry you are working in. I’m pretty happy with myself (to get this recognition) – I think it will help me get my name about.”

Suffolk agricultural apprentice of the year runner-up Tom Reily, with David Barker of the Suffolk Agricultural Association

Suffolk agricultural apprentice of the year runner-up Tom Reily, with David Barker of the Suffolk Agricultural Association - Credit: Suffolk Rural

Both prize winners received a trophy, certificate, free tickets to next year's Suffolk Show, some training vouchers from the college and prize money. 

The competition was first launched in 2016 thanks to collaboration between Suffolk Rural, Fram Farmers and the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA).

SAA president David Barker, who presented the prizes, said: “This competition helps demonstrate how highly skilled you need to be to work in farming. Winning this is a huge accolade for both students who will hopefully go on and become leading players in the farming world.”

Suffolk Rural principal Viv Gillespie added: “As a college we need to do all we can to promote and celebrate agriculture. The standard of entrants seems to improve year on year and Olly and Tom are worthy winners."

Bill Baker, Andrew Knowles, Olly Spiers, Tom Reily, Viv Gillespie, David Barker and Phillip Ainsworth at Suffolk Rural

Bill Baker, Andrew Knowles, Olly Spiers, Tom Reily, Viv Gillespie, David Barker and Phillip Ainsworth at the awards ceremony at Suffolk Rural college - Credit: Suffolk Rural

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