Eighteen-year-old Ross Gallacher, from Pollock in Glasgow, has won the Horticulture and Modern Apprentice of the Year categories at Lantra Scotland’s annual Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. The Horticulture runner-up was Liam Anderson, aged 20 from Shetland.
The Horticulture awards were presented by keynote speaker and former Horticulture Learner of the Year, Finulla McCloskey, while the Modern Apprentice of the Year award was presented by Gerry McBride of event sponsor Skills Development Scotland at a glittering ceremony and gala dinner on Thursday 3rd March at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel near Stirling.
Finulla said: “Winning a Lantra award for Horticulture was a real honour and had a positive impact on my career. It raised my profile within Glasgow City Council, leading to a great opportunity to work with the Landscape design team for a year which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am more confident in my own abilities now which has helped me continue to develop and better myself. I wish all this year’s winners the best of luck going forward. They are a talented bunch!”
Ross is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 in Horticulture, while working at Pollok Country Park for Glasgow City Council. As a member of the training team, he has been involved in a number of projects, including “Love your plot,” a BBC event in George Square, Glasgow. The team also worked at the Gartnavel Royal Hospital where horticulture therapy is used to help patients. Ross was recently short-listed for the Association for Public Centre Excellence Horticulture Apprentice of the Year Award.
Ross said: “Thanks to Lantra Scotland for this great award. Working as an Environmental Modern Apprentice at Pollok Country Park has given me great confidence and really fuelled my interest in horticulture and gardening. The team here have been a real help, mentoring me and providing advice when I need it – I look forward to taking this experience forward and making a success as a horticulturalist.”
Billy Kenny, Glasgow City Council said: “What a great achievement for Ross, it is thoroughly deserved. He always approaches his work with a smile and positive attitude, he is a pleasure to be around. Ross has a genuine interest in horticulture and the apprenticeship has enabled him to gain all the experience and skills he needs to flourish. We wish him all the best of luck for the future.”
Organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, the Learner of the Year Awards are vital for recognising the efforts of trainees, Modern Apprentices, students, pupils, teachers, tutors, training providers and schools involved in the rural sectors. They also play an important role in encouraging employers to invest in skills for the future, a vital prerequisite to a healthy, vibrant rural sector.
As an indication of how the talent pool is growing, this year’s nominations came in from across Scotland, from the Borders to Shetland.
The categories for the 2016 awards included the Overall Winner and Runner-up for Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year, the prestigious Council of Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies (CARAS) Awards, the Modern Apprentice of the Year, the Higher Education Award, the Rural and Urban Secondary Schools Award, Jean’s Jam Award and the industry accolades of trees and timber, agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation.
This year’s ceremony was attended by some of the sector’s leading figures and hosted by Jim McLaren, former NFU Scotland President and current Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland.
Chair of the independent panel of judges Ray Jones said:“Every year the judges are inspired by the enthusiasm, vitality and determination to succeed from our candidates. These young people are going into tough employment markets and winning or even being short-listed for the Lantra Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards assists that future foothold into a long-term job.”
This year’s awards were generously supported by Buccleuch, Skills Development Scotland, Dawnfresh, Forestry Commission Scotland, Marine Harvest, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Scottish Salmon Company, SRUC, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, CARAS, Easterton Stables, Elspeth Watson, George Linton Memorial Trust, National Farmers Union Scotland and RHASS.
To find out more about the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2016, visit www.lantra.co.uk/scotland/land-based-and-aquaculture-learner-year call 01738 646762 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.