Frances Thomas has been presented the Rumenco Beef and Sheep Award 2020 for producing the best beef assignment for the Sustainable Animal Production Systems module.
The 23 year-old from Powys studied BSc (Hons) Agriculture with a keen interest in all aspects of farming and business management which aided her in writing her award winning piece. Frances said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the Rumenco Beef and Sheep Prize and it is a great way to finish my time at Harper Adams - it is my proudest achievement of this academic year.”
Having completed her degree, Frances is an advocate for all she has learned: “I believe that this degree has equipped me with the necessary skills and transferable knowledge to engage with and contribute positively to the agricultural industry across the UK. I chose to study straight agriculture rather than specialise as it is a wide ranging and versatile degree which didn’t narrow my future options.”
Growing up on a 160ha family farm in the Brecon Beacons, Frances had always had an active interest ranging from lambing and calving to accounts, alongside the variety of work within the dairy, pigs and poultry industry.
This is something Frances developed through her working experience. With a successful application to the Stanley Bligh Memorial Fund and The Abergavenny Farmers Trust, she could afford to complete work experience away from home; first, living in Norfolk to work for Dalehead Foods in a pig outdoor breeding unit and then to Ontario, Canada to lamb on a 2300 ewe farm. Following this, for her compulsory placement year, France was awarded a scholarship from British Poultry Council to work with Avara.
Talking about her experiences, Frances said: “The compulsory work placement year in industry sets Harper Adams apart from other universities through their close industry links and a high employment rate following graduation.
“I enjoyed gaining experiences through meeting other farmers and different systems to further my knowledge. I attended grassland farm walks and Farming Connect discussion groups, talking about the rearing of Abervale lambs, rearing indoor pigs, and improving the management of beef suckler calves.”
Following a successful placement year, Frances was offered employment with Avara on their graduate scheme, providing career progression opportunities with wide ranging skills and disciplines.