Age is no Barrier to Learning at Barony Campus!

Published Wednesday, 13th January 2016 in Study at SRUC news

John Maxwell

You are never too old to learn at SRUC’s Barony Campus, and paying testament to this is 74 year old John Maxwell of Netherwood Farm, Dumfries.

John’s family has been farming in the region since 1863, first in the Garroch, then Glengower and have been at Netherwood since 1940. He recently completed and passed his PA1 and PA2 courses in Pesticide Application under the supportive tuition of Andrew Marshall, Agriculture lecturer at the Barony campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Not only did John gain his qualification, he said it boosted his confidence. The last test John sat was his driving test many years ago so he was naturally nervous and worried about the course: “Even after the first session I was convinced I wouldn’t manage to pass, and when I got home my young grandson noticed that I was upset. But I was determined to pass the course and I did and I am so relieved. Even though I felt daunted to start with, my advice to others would be not to worry and just pay attention to the instructor – listen and learn, and you will do okay.

When asked about the content of the Pesticide Application courses, John’s view is: “It’s actually the same principle as before but it’s just done differently now with modern technology. I now know about the proper labelling, exactly what each chemical does and the pathways for the chemicals on the sprayer. I think the assessment was fair and square and actually I was finished before the young lad!

“Some might think I was too old to back to college and that I should be retiring, but to me farming is my life so as long as I am here I will be farming!”

Rachel Fraser, Training Manager at Barony Campus said: “Our aim is to make sure all our students across all backgrounds and age ranges feel comfortable with what we are teaching. Our instructors understand the anxiety that some people feel when they come into a College environment after not having completed any learning for some time. What is important at SRUC is that our learners not only gain new skills and qualifications, but grow in confidence.”

From the end of November, the Grandfather clause ended and there is now a legal requirement for those buying and using Plant Protection Products (PPP) which includes pesticides for professional use. Previously, those born before 31 December 1964 could use pesticides responsibly on their or their employer’s land without certification. The new legislation requires those buying pesticides and using pesticides to hold the relevant qualification.). This has led to a large number of people undertaking the course at SRUC Barony.

In the last year over 1200 people have completed short courses run by SRUC Barony, of which 300 people attended one of our pesticide courses. Our courses cover a large range of subjects ranging from ATVs, telehandlers through to pesticides, chainsaws and forest machinery. For more information on them please contact David Spencer, Training Administrator 01387 242918.

Photograph: John Maxwell.

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