Inspiring the young and offering opportunities

The latest tranche of awards from NFU Scotland’s Centenary Trust has included support for a scheme aimed at bringing more young people into farming and other rural industries.

Ringlink offers the chance to spread the cost of machinery. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Ringlink offers the chance to spread the cost of machinery. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The cash was awarded to machinery and labour sharing co-operative Ringlink, based in Laurencekirk, where it will be used to help develop a landmark internship programme.

Graham Bruce, managing director of the company, said: “For many years we have advocated the benefits of an entirely practical work-based programme and we are delighted to have been awarded funds from the Centenary Trust towards the delivery of the internship programme.”

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He added that Ringlink would now move on to deliver phase two of the programme, doubling the number of interns from six to 12.

Bruce, a long-term advocate of providing the next generation with a path into rural employment, said: “This is a major step in our long-term aspiration to deliver a recognised method of training and development designed to encourage young people into the agricultural and associated industry.”

The Ringlink cash support of £35,000 was the biggest single award made by the trust, which has so far this year distributed almost £100,000 to various rural projects around Scotland.

The trust, established to mark the union’s first 100 years, has received money from a range of centenary events throughout 2013 as well as from voluntary contributions from the union’s 8,500 members.

The trust set three objectives for the fund – developing careers in Scottish farming, promoting food and farming industries to schoolchildren and improving the sector’s health and safety record.

The majority of projects approved build on the work of organisations like the Royal Highland Educational Trust, the Royal Northern Agricultural Society, the Border Union Agricultural Society and individual schools in giving children a flavour of what goes into producing their food.

The secretary of the Border Union Agricultural Society, Ronald Wilson, said he was delighted as it will help fund a children’s day at Springwood Park, Kelso, next May.

This will see all primary five children from Scottish Borders schools, plus a number of schools from the Lothians, learning about everything related to the countryside – animals, food, growing crops, wool, fishing, the environment and the countryside code.

“The award helps to underpin the cost of the day and means we can expand on what we achieved at our inaugural day in 2013, when more than 1,300 ten-year-olds came to the event,” he said.

For the trust, George Lawrie stressed the importance to the farming industry of encouraging the next generation of farmers and food producers: “I hope that we can inspire youngsters, wherever they come from, that farming is a career path open to them all, even if they are growing up in the heart of the city.”