West coast trainees win big at Lantra Scotland’s Learner of the Year Awards

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Three trainees from the West Coast have won major accolades at Lantra Scotland’s annual Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards, which took place on Thursday March 7.

Thirty-four-year-old Janis Brivkalns, from Dunoon, is the joint overall winner of the entire event, the first time the honour has been shared by two people. He also won the Modern Apprentice and Aquaculture Industry categories on what was a highly successful night for him.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Andrew Richardson, originally from the Isle of Skye, won the Higher Education Award and 19-year-old Gamekeeping apprentice Cameron MacLean, from Islay, won the Game and Wildlife category.

Janis has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with The Scottish Salmon Company through Inverness College UHI. His work has been to an excellent standard and he is an inspiration to others. He has overcome many hurdles to become an established and valued member of the production team.

Janis said: ‘It’s great to be recognised like this, and winning these awards is incredible. I hope this will help me progress within the company and industry I love so much. I’m very grateful to my tutors at Inverness College UHI and my employers at the Scottish Salmon Company for all their support.’

Andrew has been doing an Erasmus Mundus joint masters degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society through the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI in Oban. As well as excelling on his course, he was recently elected as one of only two national coordinators in Scotland for the European Aquaculture Society Student Group, and is an active member of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance.

Andrew said: ‘What an honour to win the Higher Education Award! I’d like to thank my tutors at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Lantra Scotland and everyone who has helped me along the way.’

Cameron has done a Modern Apprenticeship in Gamekeeping through North Highland College UHI, while working as a deer stalker at Dunlossit Estate. He is currently doing an NC. Cameron is very well thought of on the estate and is yet another great example of why the Modern Apprenticeship route works.

Cameron said: ‘I’m very happy to win this award. It’s been hard work but it’s great to be recognised by the industry and those around you. Thanks to everyone who has helped me!’

The 2019 Learner of the Year Awards were organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries. Host and main speaker for the evening was well-known Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith.

According to Liz Barron-Majerik, director of Lantra Scotland, the awards are key to recognising and celebrating the achievements of trainees within Scotland’s rural sector, as well as encouraging employers to invest in the next generation of talent.

She continued: ‘Our awards highlight the incredible individuals who work within Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries as well as the many rewarding careers available.

‘I know our judges were very impressed again with the quality of the nominations, but this year they really couldn’t separate the two top learners. So for the first time ever, we have two overall joint winners, Amy and Janis. I’d like to congratulate them both and all the rest of our finalists too.

‘We are, of course, very grateful to have the support of a range of people and organisations who make holding an event like this possible, including our main sponsor Skills Development Scotland, and Aberdeenshire Council, ABP Food Group, British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association, Countryside Learning Scotland, DRB Youngstock, Elspeth Watson, George Linton Memorial Trust, Marine Scotland, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society Scotland, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Scottish Salmon Company, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation and SRUC.’

To find out more about Lantra Scotland’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards, visit www.scotland.lantra.co.uk/learner-year call 01738 310164 or email scotland@lantra.co.uk