Skip to main content
Harper Adams University logo

    Harper scholar Tom shortlisted as Ag Student of the Year hours before completing charity Triathlon

    Posted 8 July

    Tom Yourk after completing his triathlon

    A Harper Adams student has landed two huge achievements in one weekend - being shortlisted as national Agricultural Student of the Year just hours before completing a charity Ultimate Triathlon.

    Tom York, a third-year BSc (Hons) Agri-business student, is one of three finalists in the Farmers Weekly awards, the winners of which will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in October.

    Just 48 hours after the announcement of his shortlisting, Tom marked the culmination of six months of training and completed a gruelling Ultimate Triathlon to raise both money and awareness to help tackle mental health issues in agriculture.

    The triathlon – often referred to as an Ironman – involved a 2.4-mile open water swim, a 122-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run, and took place in Ellesmere.

    Speaking after completing it, Tom, 21, said: “It was an incredible feeling - a real sense of achievement.

    “It wasn’t until the last kilometre that the emotions hit me and I tried my best to hold back the tears."

    “Over six months of training had led up to that point and to see so many family, friends, and people who have supported me throughout this journey was very emotional for all.”

    Tom, who is currently on placement in East Anglia with Agricultural Management Consultants Wilson Wraight, from whom he has received a scholarship to support his studies, has talked openly about his own mental health challenges, as well as losing a friend to suicide.

    He chose the Ironman as a way to physically illustrate that life’s challenges can be tackled – and added: “It was a physically and mentally demanding day, but there was never a point where I thought about giving up or quitting. I think the mental resilience I have built throughout training paid dividends.

    “I reminded myself why I was doing this challenge. The whole point of me choosing to do an endurance event as tough as an Ironman was to prove that no challenge is too big or small to overcome, and that when you feel like giving up, there is always a way to get through the pain.”

    During the six months he has been training for the Ironman, Tom has been raising money for The Farming Community Network (FCN).

    The charity and voluntary organisation has more than 300 volunteers from across the agricultural sector – including Tom himself.

    It works to improve the health and wellbeing of people in farming has well as offering support at times of difficulty and change.

    Tom set an initial fundraising target of £500 for the charity when beginning his training – though by the time he had completed the challenge, had raised £7,430.

    He added: “I’m genuinely blown away at the amount of money I’ve been able to raise.

    “However, the most important part of the fundraiser, in my opinion, is the awareness that it brings to the challenges faced by UK farmers and those involved in the industry.

    “The money was a good indicator of the reach, but I hope that there have been people who take inspiration from my achievement - and can hopefully utilise some of those skills in their day-to-day lives.”

    The Friday before Tom completed his Ironman challenge, it was also announced that he had been shortlisted for the 2024 Farmers Weekly’s Agricultural Student of the Year award.

    He said: “I suppose it was the cherry on the cake! Over the past six months I’ve become so engulfed by the training and mental strain it has put on me that I didn’t really appreciate the recognition that it receives, if that makes sense?

    “All I can say is ‘thank you’ to those who nominated me, and it really did give me an extra ounce of energy on the day of the challenge!”

    The news of Tom’s shortlisting has been welcomed by his fellow students, his placement employers and sponsors Wilson Wraight, and by Harper Adams employees – including the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, who said: “Tom is a great ambassador for Harper Adams University – and as his tireless fundraising shows, he is also an inspiration for us all.

    “Despite his humility, he fully deserves the recognition he has received through the Ag Student of the Year shortlisting, and the best of luck at the awards this October!”

    To see more about Tom’s Ironman Challenge, visit his pages on Facebook or Just Giving - where you can also donate.

    Cookies on the Harper Adams University website

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.