Seven young farmers from across Wales have financially benefited from this year’s Gareth Raw Rees Memorial Travel Scholarship. A total of £1,950 has been awarded by the Management Committee to scholars wishing to broaden their knowledge of agriculture, following a donation from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust.
This year’s awards will be presented by Mr Dai Davies OBE, Chairman of NFU Mutual’s Advisory Board for Wales, at the Royal Welsh Show, on Tuesday 22 July 2014.
Sian Downes, the main winner, from Llangeitho, in Ceredigion, will receive £500 to help her travel to Canada. Sian plans to use the money to help fund a four week trip to visit and stay on farms in the Ontario state.
Nineteen year old Sian, who has recently completed A’level examinations at Ysgol Uwchradd Tregaron and has been accepted for a degree course at Harper Adams University. Sian takes a keen interest in the family beef and sheep organic farm where they breed pedigree Limousin cattle and pedigree Polled Dorset and Lleyn sheep. She also works part-time milking cattle on a neighbouring dairy farm and will set off for her trip to Canada at the beginning of August.
Commenting on her impending trip to Canada, Sian Downes said, “I am really looking forward to spending time in Canada to widen my knowledge of agriculture and in particular to learn more about the role of genetics in the breeding of dairy animals. I hope to gain a new perspective on farming and I’m keen to learn new techniques and innovations that I’ll be able to bring back to benefit the family farm as well as to help me with my university course.”
There are six further recipients from the scholarship this year who are each receiving a financial contribution to help with their travels.
Aled Thomas, from Llanwrda in Carmarthenshire receives £300 towards a two week trip to Canada as part of the Wales YFC International Programme. Aled’s travels will take him away from his work as a part-time carpenter and away from the family beef and sheep farm to broaden his knowledge of agriculture. Aled will use his time in Canada to visit some cattle ranches as well as attend the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto later this year.
Laura Howell from Oxwich Green, near the Gower, who is a Teaching Assistant and currently studying part-time for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Coleg Sir Gar in Gelli Aur, receives £250 from the scholarship towards a three week trip to the USA as part of the Wales YFC International Programme. She will spend time with host farming families in Illinois and is excited about meeting likeminded individuals who live and work in the countryside and getting an insight into their daily lives. She hopes to take some new experiences and ideas home with her that will help benefit her local Young Farmers Club.
Rhys Davies from Llanegryn, near Tywyn in Gwynedd receives £200 towards the costs of a three month trip to New Zealand. Rhys, who has recently graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Agriculture, will leave the family farm in the Dysynni Valley to join a sheep shearing gang in New Zealand and hopes to improve his sheep shearing skills while also broadening his experience of general livestock management.
Student farmer Cairan Pritchard from Brynteg, on Anglesey also receives £200 from the scholarship towards the costs of a work placement as part of his undergraduate degree course in Agriculture at Harper Adams University. Cairan has secured a 12 month work placement on a dairy farm in New Zealand and will learn more about farming in an environment without milk quotas and government subsidy. He believes this work experience opportunity will be useful ahead of future plans to expand the dairy farming enterprise on the home farm.
Elin Jones from Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, who’s currently studying for an Early Childhood degree at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Megan Lewis, a recent graduate in Welsh from Aberystwyth University who hails from Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn near Aberystwyth receive £150 each towards the costs of a two week trip to Patagonia in October arranged through the Wales YFC International Programme. Both are keen to learn more about the relationship between agriculture and the Welsh language in Patagonia and how that compares to the situation in Wales.
The scholarship, which is administered by NFU Cymru was set up in memory of the late Gareth Raw Rees who, who for many years, was a delegate on the NFU London Council and Chairman of the NFU Cymru Education Committee. Gareth believed fervently that travel was an important form of education for young people.