A total of 12 young agricultural engineering apprentices collected cash prizes at the Midlands Machinery Show in recognition of their talent and dedication.
Each received a £500 award, which will be paid in two instalments over a two-year period, with most planning to spend the money on tools
The Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society (NNAS) launched the Midlands Agricultural Engineering Apprenticeship Awards, led by former vice president Geoffrey Bond, to support young people as they develop their skills.
NNAS deputy president Pat White, who presented the awards alongside farmer and YouTuber Olly Harrison, likened agricultural engineers to NHS doctors.
“Without them, everything grinds to a halt,” he said. “They are vitally important. We need skilled craftsmen who are not worried about getting their hands dirty. These youngsters will be huge assets for the industry for years to come.”
Winners were selected by NNAS member and independent engineer Charles Szabo. Successful 2021 applicants who received their second instalment were: Isaac Kirk, Ripon Farm Services; Zac Elsden, Chandlers; Kieran Snowden, Chandlers; Oliver Coupland, Ripon Farm Service; Stella Hubbard, Farol; and Luke Hatton, Russells.
2022 winners, who received their first instalment were: Aaron Barlow, B&B Tractors; Arun Slaney, B&B Tractors; Ryan Lomas, Chandlers; Robert Ward, Farol; Craig Redfern, Sharmans Agricultural; and Evan Roberts, Ripon Farm Services.
Mr Ward still has two years of a three-year apprenticeship remaining, working with dealer Farol, based near the Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground.
“I’ve always had a passion for repairing farm equipment and an apprenticeship is the best way to learn the practicalities rather than sitting in a classroom,” he said.
Mr Ward recently put a new turbo and injectors on a John Deere 6330. “I enjoyed the responsibility and the satisfaction – and when it fired up afterwards, it was immense.”
John Deere apprentice, Ms Hubbard, has one year remaining of her apprenticeship and said: “I’d like to inspire more women to take it up. I’d like to become a master technician with John Deere and perhaps do a harvest in Australia.”
Now part of the Chandlers team, Mr Elsden received his second instalment, which will enable him to buy any remaining tools he might need to work on a wide range of agricultural equipment. “I am proud, as not everyone receives the award,” he said.
Andrew Walker, group aftersales manager at B&B Tractors, said that promoting apprenticeships is vital. “We have 20 apprentices in various stages of training and try to take on a three-year apprentice every year across our four depots. We want to attract people with an interest in engineering,” he added.
“They don’t necessarily have to be from a farming background. Having the opportunity to work outside rather than being stuck in a factory or car garage could be an attraction.”
Young apprentices are the lifeblood of agriculture, concluded Mr Szabo. “Food is the number one issue. We need a strong agricultural industry, and we can’t do that without young apprentices.”