Tillmouth student is best modern apprentice in Scotland

Lantra winner's (left to right): Audrey Peebles (Elmwood College) Valerie Owen OBE (Lantra) Michael Binnie (Winner) David James (Oatridge College) and Darlene Russell (Argyll College)
Lantra winner's (left to right): Audrey Peebles (Elmwood College) Valerie Owen OBE (Lantra) Michael Binnie (Winner) David James (Oatridge College) and Darlene Russell (Argyll College)

Borders College students had another very successful night at the Lantra Learner of the Year Awards Ceremony at the Crieff Hydo Hotel.

Two college students Michael Binnie and Josh Halley won National Awards competing against other landbased students from all over Scotland.

Some 125 guests attended this highly prestigious event, including learners, employers, farmers, crofters, land managers, training providers and key stakeholders. The judging panel included Peter Alexander, Algo Blairgowrie Ltd; Russell Taylor, Taypack Potatoes Ltd; Keith Paterson,  Forestry Commission Scotland; Erika Hay, journalist/consultant; and Ray Jones, Scotland Food and Drink.

Michael from Tillmouth won the top agricultural student award category. Borders College has a good record in this category and Michael continued the success story.

Michael also won the overall best Modern Apprentice in Scotland title competing against apprentices in all land based categories, working on the family farm during his time at college. He is currently studying at SAC and hopes to complete his studies there and travel abroad to gain more work experience.

“It is a big honour to be nominated and to win these awards. I’m really proud of all of my accomplishments as I have put a lot of effort and work into my career, so this really means a lot to me,” Said Michael.

Josh from Jedburgh won the Schools Landbased Learner of the Year Award, this is the first time that a Borders College student has won this title after having had runners up for the last three years.

Josh also won a prestigious Caras award, which recognises youngsters who judges believe have a bright future in the landbased sector. The judges were very impressed with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the countryside.

Fifteen-year-old Josh has completed a Rural Skills course with Borders College and has applied for the full time Gamekeeping course next year and hopes to use his Award as a platform for his career.

Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance, attended the awards ceremony to congratulate the finalists and stress the importance of skills and training.

She said: “Often in a time of economic uncertainty it is staff training and skills development that can suffer first and foremost, however successful businesses will recognise it is during such times when investing in skills can carry even more importance and significance.

“Faced with an ever increasing competitiveness on a global scale, it is imperative that our workforce is provided with every tool at their disposal to give Scotland the edge that it needs to continue to prosper.”

“That’s why nights like this are so important. Occasions like this do more than highlight the talent, commitment and skills of well deserving individuals. They bring into focus the opportunities provided by the land-based and aquaculture sector and demonstrate to employers the benefits of a skilled workforce.”