Two young farming leaders of tomorrow were crowned joint Suffolk Agricultural Apprentices of the Year at this year’s Suffolk Show.
Liam Robinson and George Leonard received their awards in
the grand ring at Trinity Park on Wednesday 29 May 2019.
This competition was first launched back in 2015 thanks to a collaboration between Easton and Otley College, Fram Farmers and the Suffolk Agricultural Association.
The idea was to help shine a light on the diverse careers that are possible within farming whilst also highlighting the importance of agricultural apprenticeships to young people.
Nicola Currie is an apprenticeship ambassador at Easton and Otley College. She said, “Every year the standard improves but this year we just couldn’t choose an outright winner. Liam (who works for Rattlerow Farms near Eye) and George (who works for Home Farm in Nacton) are exceptional candidates at the start of their careers.
“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.”
Tim Styles is the chief operating officer at Fram Farmers. He helped judge the competition and 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, underestimating the technical competencies 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, “We are proud to support this great competition. The 2019 winners have really helped demonstrate the quality of talent that is being brought into the industry via agricultural apprenticeships.”
Liam Robinson had no previous farming experience before starting his apprenticeship. The 16-year-old, said, “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.
“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.
“Finally, in terms of Easton and Otley, I’d say that they help you a lot – if you are at work or at the college – they are always there to support you.”
George Leonard, is taking an arable apprenticeship and impressed the judges with his knowledge of cropping techniques, irrigation and machinery maintenance. He favoured an apprenticeship route in preference of university. The 20-year-old, said, “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.”
George’s employer is Andrew Williams from Home Farm Nacton. The farm manager, 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.”
Each entrant had to submit a short video of themselves made on their mobile phones to illustrate what they do at work, explaining why they chose to study through an apprenticeship and they were asked to highlight some of their key achievements. The video was supported by a written reported from their employers.
Those shortlisted were interviewed by the judges. Thanks to Farm Farmers sponsorship, 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 chain saw operative.