FOUR aquaculture trainees have made the shortlist for this year’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.
They are among 24 finalists named by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries, which organises the competition.
Among the aquaculture hopefuls are Harry Hamlin-Wright, a vet from Perth, who was taken on as a graduate trainee by Dawnfresh after completing an MSc in Aquatic Veterinary Studies at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture.
Also nominated is Scottish Sea Farms employee Billy Welsh, from Stromness in Orkney, who has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with SSF through NAFC Marine Centre UHI.
And Janis Brivkalns, from Dunoon, has been recognised too. She is undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with the Scottish Salmon Company through Inverness College UHI.
The fourth aquaculture finalist is Andrew Richardson, from the Isle of Lewis, who has been studying for an Erasmus Mundus joint masters degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society through the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
As well as aquaculture, the awards include categories for the agriculture, animal care, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering and environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year and CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Awards.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner and award ceremony on Thursday, March 7, at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro.
The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the Learner of the Year Overall Winner. This goes to an outstanding trainee who has demonstrated exceptional ability, hard work and a passion for their industry.
The Tam Tod Trophy will be awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner. The trophy was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.
Jean’s Jam Award will also be making a return. The award recognises an inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer and was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello.
The finalists for the 2019 learner of the year awards were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector: agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay; Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland; farmer Keith Redpath; former agricultural banker Jimmy McLean; Lisa Connell of The Scottish Salmon Company; and Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing.
MC and host for the evening will be Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith.
Liz Barron-Majerik, director of Lantra Scotland, said: ‘We’re delighted to announce the finalists for our 2019 Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.
‘As well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants to our sector, the awards play a key role in promoting the importance of gaining qualifications and developing skills, for both trainees and their employers.
‘Everyone who was nominated, whether a finalist or not, should be extremely proud of this recognition.’
Erika Hay, chair of the independent judging panel, said: ‘As in previous years, we’ve been very impressed with the quality of people nominated for Lantra’s awards, and it’s been a privilege to meet them.
‘We know how much it means to finalists to get to this stage of the awards, as it’s a great boost for their self-confidence and demonstrates their potential to the rest of the sector.
‘There’s a real depth of talent and enthusiasm coming through across the country, and that can only be a good thing for Scotland’s rural economy.’
Tickets for the evening are available from Lantra on 01738 310164 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.lantra.co.uk/Scotland/tickets.
Picture: Harry Hamlin-Wright of Dawnfresh at Frandy Fish Farm (photo: Alan McCredie)