Winners of the 2016 Eastern Borders Development Association award are Chirnside-based potato growers and packers Greenvale AP Ltd.
Putting the company forward for the award, Councillor Jim Fullarton, Scottish Borders Council member for East Berwickshire, referred to Greenvale’s arrival in the region, through their acquisition of the established Winfield-based potato growers and packers, E S Black in 2000, “as a progressive and innovative force within the agricultural sector in the eastern Borders”.
It was the company’s highly successful Modern Apprenticeships scheme that particularly attracted the interest of the EBDA Award trustees.
Starting in July each year, the Greenvale Apprentice Scheme was designed to provide school-leavers aged 16 to 18 with the skills and knowledge required to build a career within the company, by introducing them to hands-on experience throughout the workplace - production and growing in the field, packing, quality control and distribution. Apprentices were also given assistance to gain industry-recognised qualifications through the SQA and Improve the Food and Drinks Sector Council.
In addition to the workplace skills, the apprentices completed a week-long residential Outward Bound course in the Lake District to hone and develop their man-management and life skills.
Accepting the award from Jeanna Swan, the Lord-Lieutenant for Berwickshire, at a ceremony in Berwick Town Hall, Greenvale’s operations manager Stephen Simm said: “What we do in the course of daily business we take for granted, but it is truly gratifying to have this recognised in the wider local community.
“In addition to our investment in modern technology and state-of-the art environmentally-friendly equipment and processes, we take pride in our responsibilities as a major employer of over 200 people in the eastern Borders area.”
Jeanna Swan said that it was a particular pleasure for her to present the award as her father-in-law, Sir William Swan, had been one of the founders of EBDA in the 1950s.
Chairing the ceremony, SBC Mid Berwickshire Councillor Donald Moffat referred to the achievements of EBDA – the forerunners of the award – in the 1950s and 1960s, in attracting new industries to the eastern borders and north Northumberland at a time when the area’s indigenous industries, farming and fishing, were suffering a decline .