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    Harper Adams alumna secures NFYFC YFC Achiever award for Entrepreneur of the Year

    Posted 27 September 2021

    Victoria Smith in her award-winning business, West End Barns.

    A Harper Adams University alumna has secured the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC’s) YFC Achiever Awards 2021.

    Victoria Smith, who studied for a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture with Environmental Management at the University, secured the award – supported by Natwest – for her work launching her business, West End Barns, during last year’s lockdown.

    Based on her fiancée’s farm near Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, the project saw Victoria bring a disused barn back into use as a location to sell takeaway drinks, homemade cakes and other local produce.

    The conversion was carried out thanks to funding from the Henry Plumb Foundation – which helps young people realise their dream of finding a future career in the farming and food industry.

    Victoria spent weekends and evenings making her idea a reality – all whilst working  a full-time job. West End Barns has now proved so successful she has expanded from the initial takeaway option to offer seating and added a wider product range, including local ice cream, honey and gifts.

    The business is set to expand further with longer opening hours, sales of her fiancé’s home-reared meat, educational farm talks, and locally-produced Christmas gifts.

    Victoria’s approach to business planning, research and funding impressed all four judges at the awards, held earlier this month.

    Victoria said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award, something that I couldn’t have imagined possible this time last year, when my idea really was just an idea.

    “The business has been brought to life with the backing of family and friends, many of whom regularly give up their time and expertise, helping to make my dream a reality. West End Barns is proof that if you are determined enough and are prepared to work hard, anything is possible.”

    And Roddy McLean, director of agriculture, NatWest, said: “NatWest is very proud to support the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2021 and to have helped choose the overall winner.  

    “All five of the finalists achieved impressive results during the uncertainty of the pandemic but Victoria Smith’s business really stood out. Victoria had a vision and executed it in the right way – she did research, sought funding and has plans for growth.

    “She already has a profitable business and I am excited to see where Victoria takes West End Barns next.”

    Victoria – who came to Harper Adams from Harpenden in Hertfordshire – added that her time at the University helped to set her on her career path – despite not originally coming from an agricultural background.

    She said: “I absolutely loved my time at Harper Adams, I made friends for life and I wouldn't have had the job opportunities I have had since, working Red Tractor Farm Assurance for two and a half years, Glinwell Marketing for a year and now being at the Organic Research Centre.

    “None of that would have happened without what I learned at Harper.

    “Not coming from a farming background, it felt like quite a big step at the time to go to an Agricultural University, but I'm so glad I did!”

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