Posted 19 October 2011
it is great that the industry recognises and rewards keen young people who want to live and work in the countryside."
Harper Adams postgraduate student Simon Haley has fought off stiff competition to land a rare scholarship which will fund his studies for the next two years.
Simon, 26, from Preston, was one of just six students nationwide to be granted a Centenary Award from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, which grants bursaries to students with promising futures in agricultural studies.
The award will allow him continue his studies for a Masters in International Agribusiness and Farm Management at Harper Adams. Simon graduated from his undergraduate degree course at the University College in 2009.
With the cost of education rising, the award was particularly sought after. However, the judging panel were not only looking for excellent academic performers, but people committed to the future of agriculture, with the aim of selecting potential rural leaders of the future.
Lindsay Sinclair, NFU Mutual Group Chief Executive, said: “As the UK’s leading rural insurer, with a history interwoven with farming, NFU Mutual understands the challenges facing the agricultural industry such as bio-diversity, climate change, food security, and international agricultural development.
“We want our Centenary Award to benefit agricultural education and research, and help encourage a vibrant and sustainable farming industry, and we’re confident that helping these promising and talented people in their studies will make a real difference.”
Simon said: "When I heard about the award, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity. The financial support was obviously a major attraction, but also the chance to build close relationships with the industry that can hopefully be mutually beneficial in the future, as through my current role as a rural business consultant, I come into contact with many rural businesses.
“If you don't put yourself forward for such scholarships and awards you can't win them. I relished the chance to measure myself against my peers from across the land based industries, and I believe my success was attributable to my passion and enthusiasm, and a drive to succeed, not only personally but professionally as well.
“I have been welcomed into the industry from a non-farming background, and it is great that the industry recognises and rewards keen young people who want to live and work in the countryside. I thoroughly enjoy the variety of my current role, meeting new people and businesses, and to be able to give something back through improving the viability and performance of their businesses is a culmination of the education and experience I have had to date.
“Through this scholarship, I can push myself further to justify the trust the NFU Mutual have placed in me as a key representative of the next generation of agriculture."
The Centenary Award was launched in 2010 to celebrate NFU Mutual’s 100th birthday, with the aim of supporting education and research into agricultural issues, with a particular emphasis on sustainable agriculture, climate change and international agricultural development.
Applications for the award next year will be invited from the start of January 2012. Information about the scheme can be found at www.nfumutual.co.uk