Land college students narrowly miss out on top spot at Smithfield competition

From left, Suffolk student Holly Lutkin, Norfolk student Tom Martin, Martin Irvine, who appeared on

From left, Suffolk student Holly Lutkin, Norfolk student Tom Martin, Martin Irvine, who appeared on BBC TV's This Farming Life, judge Charles Sercombe, farm manager Andrew Vernon, Norfolk student Alex Gathercole and Suffolk student Holly Sleightholme. - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College students went head to head against 30 teams from 14 colleges in a national farming contest in Peterborough.

The learners – all on a level three agricultural course at Easton and Otley College – clinched second place in the college challenge at the East of England Showground after missing out on the top spot by just three points.

Teams were briefed before they took part in the stockjudging of lambs, ewes, heifers and carcases as part of the two-day Smithfield Festival.

Team members presented their findings to judges before finding out where they were placed.

Suffolk based student Holly Lutkin said she was looking forward to taking on the challenge again next year.

“It was a really great achievement and it was great to be part of the team. I learnt many new skills that can be applied into the workplace,” she said.

Tom Martin from Downham Market said: “Our team was made up of two students from Norfolk and two from Suffolk so the region united and we were delighted with the result.

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“We worked very hard and really came together when it mattered. Three of the team are in the first year of our course so we will be going back in 2017 with great confidence.”

Programme manager for agriculture Paula Bidmead, said: “To come second was a massive achievement for our students. They all come from a region that often is not regarded as a strong sheep and cattle area but their performance in coming second out of 30 teams has really put us on the map.

“With this success and the fact that we have won The Cereals Challenge twice out of the last three years shows that our students are getting recognised at a national level which is very pleasing.”

Farm manager Andrew Vernon said: “The teams only had a short and intensive training programme relating to this competition and did well to place so highly against some of the largest and most established agricultural colleges in the UK. Next year we hope to go one better.”