Game and wildlife trainees on award shortlisted

Two trainees from the game and wildlife industry have been short-listed for a prestigious award.

Lantra Scotland’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday 7 March.

The finalists are Andy Oldham and Cameron MacLean.

Andy, aged 45 from Aberfeldy, has done an HNC in Game and Wildlife Management at North Highland College UHI, while working at Meggerine Estate in Stirling. Andy finished his career with the Royal Marines and took a gamble to fulfil his dream to be a deerstalker.

Through his commitment, hard work and dedication, he excelled, achieving the Student of the Year award in the process.

Andy said: ‘As an ex-service person, it can be extremely hard imagining doing anything else. The learning journey has been one that has been challenging and engrossing, but at the same time, has exceeded all that I have wanted my new career to be.’

Cameron, aged 19 from Islay, has done a Modern Apprenticeship in Gamekeeping through North Highland College UHI, while working as a deer stalker at Dunlossit Estate. He is currently doing an NC. Cameron is very well thought of on the estate.

He said: ‘I would really like to win this award because I feel it would give me the opportunity get my name out there and improve my chance of becoming employed as a full-time gamekeeper.’

Lantra Scotland is the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries, and the awards play a vital role in promoting careers within the rural sector, celebrating the achievements of learners and highlighting the importance to employers of investing in skills.

MC and host for the evening will be farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith.

Last year’s overall winner, Megan Rowland, will also talk about the difference the award has made to her career and her role as one of Lantra’s industry champions.

The awards include categories for the agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering and the environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year and CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Awards.

The CARAS Award was established by the UK’s four national agricultural societies, including the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). It aims to recognise, through an awards scheme, distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries. RHASS also support an award for secondary schools.

The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the Learner of the Year Overall Winner, for the talented trainee who has demonstrated exceptional ability, hard work and passion during their studies.

The Tam Tod Trophy will be awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner. The trophy was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.

Jean’s Jam Award will also be making a return. The award recognises an inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer and was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello.

The finalists for the 2019 learner of the year awards were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector: Agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay, Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland, farmer Keith Redpath, former agricultural banker Jimmy McLean; Lisa Connell of The Scottish Salmon Company and Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing.

Liz Barron-Majerik, director of Lantra Scotland said: “We’re delighted to announce the finalists for our 2019 Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.

‘As well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants to our sector, the awards play a key role in promoting the importance of
gaining qualifications and developing skills, for both trainees and their employers.

‘Everyone who was nominated, whether a finalist or not, should be extremely proud of this recognition, and we look forward to celebrating their success at our ceremony in the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 7 March.

‘We are very grateful to the independent panel of judges, to training providers and to the employers for contributions, and of course to all of our generous event sponsors.’

Erika Hay, chair of the independent judging panel, said: ‘As in previous years, we’ve been very impressed with the quality of people nominated for Lantra’s awards, and it’s been a privilege to meet them. We know how much it means to finalists to get to this stage of the awards, as it’s a great boost for their self-confidence and demonstrates their potential to the rest of the sector.

‘There’s a real depth of talent and enthusiasm coming through across the country, and that can only be a good thing for Scotland’s rural economy.’

Since the awards were launched in 2004, there have been over 1000 nominees and 300 finalists.

Tickets for the evening are available from Lantra on 01738 310164 or See

Lantra’s work in Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government.