Published Monday, 2nd July 2018 in Alumni and Friends news
The inaugural Young Farmer of the Year award turned out to be a six-way battle of SRUC alumni.
Andrew Neilson, who gained an NC in land-based engineering from the Barony campus in 2012, came out on top against five fellow ex-SRUC students when the prize was awarded at the Royal Highland Show.
The 22-year-old from Lanarkshire, a member of Avondale Young Farmers Club, beat strong competition from Robert Campbell (Crossroads YFC), Douglas Frame and Scott Bourman (both Carluke YFC), David Comrie (Bankfoot JAC), and David Mitchell (Biggar YFC) to the first ever title.
Organised by The Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs (SAYFC), the award was measured on expertise, knowledge and entrepreneurship.
As well as a spectacular trophy donated by Sir John Campbell of Glenrath Farms, Andrew walked away with a host of other prizes, including £1000 courtesy of the Royal Bank of Scotland, a sponsored place at the Oxford Farming Conference donated by The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, and one year’s use of an ATV from ATV Services Ltd.
Andrew, who works on the family farm of East Brackenridge in Strathaven, said: “To be named the very first Young Farmer of the Year is an unbelievable feeling and it’s a competition that’s only going to go from strength to strength. I think my passion for the industry shone through and for the trophy to be donated by Sir John Campbell, a man who came from nothing and who has gone on to achieve incredible things in the industry, made it extra special.”
Prior to the final round held at the show, the six finalists had to submit improvement plans for a 500-acre mixed unit, which counted for 50 per cent of their total score. On the day of the final, they were interviewed on their plans, took part in a quiz and competed head-to-head in a stockproofing challenge.
Penny Montgomerie, Chief Executive of SAYFC, said: “The calibre of entrants and the shortlisted candidates were exceptional and a great reflection on the next generation of farming leaders. This was a robust and comprehensive assessment that tested key skills essential to running modern businesses.
“SAYFC will continue this award for forthcoming years to support and champion the best of the industry. We were disappointed not to have a female finalist and would encourage them to participate next year.”
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