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Scholar's journey from farmer's daughter to budding land agent

Posted 2 May

“Barbados was useful in learning that the property market is different in different countries, and that what is normal in the UK, isn’t always elsewhere!”

Debbie Garritty with Eleanor Brook and Abigail Hicklin

Debbie Garritty with Eleanor Brook and Abigail Hicklin

BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management (REALM) student, Abigail Hicklin, grew-up on a family farm, and knew being a farmer wasn’t for her. It wasn’t until she looked through a careers book that she learnt about land agents.

Since then, she’s worked at Fisher German during her summer holidays for four years and been to Barbados to shadow an estate agent in the luxury market. She’s also recently been awarded the first Duchy of Lancaster Rural Land Management Scholarship to help support her during her second year of studying.

The 20-year-old from Derby, Derbyshire, said: “Having grown up on a family farm, I always knew I wanted a career within the rural sector, however, I also knew that becoming a farmer wasn’t for me.

“After looking through the careers book given to me at school and coming across the role of land agent, I realised that it was the path I wanted to go down. It’d enable me to be out on farms and estates, working with a range of different clients that have different requirements, and give me the varied work life I desire to have.

“During the summer between my GCSEs, I secured two weeks of work experience with Fisher German in the rural department of their Ashby office, and during those two weeks, I confirmed that it was the job for me.

“They invited me back the next year, and it’s led to me going back for the following three summers, and I’ll now be going to their Market Harborough office for my year’s placement from September.

“I’ve also had the opportunity to shadow an estate agent out in Barbados.

“This opportunity came about because a close family friend moved out there and became friends with a lady called Karyn, who’s an estate agent working for Terra Caribbean (Knight Frank) in Barbados.

“Our friend had been speaking to Karyn about me and how I wanted to do a similar job, and so Karyn asked if I’d like to go and do some work experience with her. I jumped at the chance and booked my plane ticket! 

“I had an amazing time. It was a truly unique experience that I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do. Every house is so different in Barbados and the people are all so relaxed and friendly.

“Some of the top end luxury apartments and houses just left me speechless, and while some of the smaller chattel houses weren’t so impressive, they were still unique and had their own character!  

“I loved driving around the island and seeing the gorgeous scenery, with the beautiful beaches always just around the corner.

“I stayed with the family friend and really got to enjoy and experience the culture far more than when holidaying. I was really made to feel welcome by all the locals.

“However, my best moment was when Karyn took me to a top-end beach apartment to show a client round. The apartment was just beyond words with an amazing view; I could quite happily have stayed there forever! 

“Since coming back, the experience has helped by teaching me a little more about the estate agency side to REALM; along with learning the importance of presentation when conducting a property viewing. It’s also been useful in learning that the property market is different in different countries, and that what is normal in the UK, isn’t always elsewhere!”

On receiving the scholarship, Abigail said: “The scholarship will relieve the everyday pressures of being a student, enabling me to spend less time working and more time on my studies.

“I’d like to thank the Duchy of Lancaster for choosing me to represent them within Harper Adams. I look forward to learning and gaining insights into the industry from their team of experts; helping me to gain the upper hand on my peers.

“My long-term aim is to become a fully qualified professional, gaining both my APC and CAAV qualifications and to work within a land agents or to be an estate manager for a specific estate, helping it to strive and succeed.”

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