VICTORIA’S DRIVE TOWARD SUCCESS

For Immediate Release Everyday that Victoria Forsyth goes to work she’s watched over by a colossal 65ft sculpture called The Dream. The concrete sculpture of a girl with her eyes closed sits on a hill overlooking both the M62 and the Merseyside farm where 21-year-old Victoria also stands out - as a hugely enthusiastic young female famer who has just been named Lantra’s Women and Work Agriculture Learner of the Year. Since 2006, the Women and Work programme has worked with over 1212 companies in England to support 3,250 women develop their skills and progress their careers in industries where women are under-represented. To celebrate the end of the 2010/2011 training programme, the nine top learners were recognised at the second annual Lantra Women and Work Awards, sponsored by VectorWorks Training, at Nailcote Hall, Warwickshire, on 30 March 2011. Working on a 900-acre arable farm isn’t a job for Victoria Forsyth, it’s a way of life and it’s one she is enormously proud of. “I was brought up on a farm until I was eight,” says Victoria, “and I’ve wanted to get back and work on one ever since. It’s in my blood.” Having tried sixth form, she left because she hated being confined to a classroom Victoria took up casual work on farms and at local grocers before getting a place at college to study a Foundation Degree in Agricultural Science. “I’d always been on farms and I’d driven tractors off road as a teenager,” says Victoria, “but going to college and getting a qualification, learning the theory behind my practical experience, was very important to me.” Victoria not only got her degree at Myerscough College, near Preston, but she followed in her dad’s footsteps and went on to add another string to her bow when she studied for an NVQ Level 2 in welding. “My dad is an agricultural engineer and a contract combine harvester driver,” she says, “I loved going about with him on jobs at farms all over the area and decided I’d have a go at welding and mending farm equipment too.” After finishing college Victoria started tractor driving and hedge cutting for a contractor but couldn’t work on his local authority contracts without her tractor driving qualification and test certificate. “Even though I’ve been driving tractors for a long time I had to go through with the training which at the time I thought was daft. But having taken it I realise how important the training is especially on the health and safety side of things. I trained with ‘one ash training’ thanks to a grant from Lantra’s Women and Work programme. I couldn’t afford the cost of the training but I needed my test certificate for hedge cutting work as a contractor to a local council,” she said. “I’m really glad I did it. I gained new skills including lining up to tractors, checking with compatibility, pre-checks on the tractor and trailer, and muck spreading with green waste.” As it turned out Victoria didn’t get a job hedge cutting on a council contract because she was spotted by a local farmer who saw her potential and offered her a position. “I haven’t looked back since,” she enthuses, “I am learning a lot from my boss and I want to progress to manage the new grain stores which are going up on the farm. “I’m really chuffed to get this award too. It shows that at the end of the day as a woman you can equally do a man’s job on the farm but if you really want to do well go and get the qualifications to back up your practical experience. That way you’ll stand out even more.” Lyndsay Bird, Lantra Women and Work Programme Manager said, “Victoria has really taken on the spirit of this programme. It is very inspiring to see the heights that her career has already taken, and no doubt this is just the beginning for her. She is a great example of how training can develop your skills and open great career opportunities, which is what this programme is designed to achieve.” The Lantra Women and Work funding programme will commence in June 2011 (subject to contract). For more information and to register your interest visit www.lantra.co.uk/Women-and-Work. Follow Lantra on twitter at www.twitter.com/LantraSSC. ENDS ISSUED BY Lantra Press Office Samuel Zelmer-Jackson, PR Co-ordinator Tel: 02476 858 418 or email media@lantra.co.uk Follow Lantra on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LantraSSC CREDIT FOR PHOTO Victoria Forsyth – Women and Work Agriculture Winner of the Year NOTES TO EDITOR About Women and Work • The Women and Work: Sector Pathways Initiative is about raising skills and unlocking potential. The project aims to raise recruitment levels in sectors where women are under-represented; increasing earning potential and aiding career progression. The initiative is in response to recommendations by the Women and Work Commission’s report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’ and receives government funding, matched by employer contributions. • Women and Work funding is available to those working in agriculture, aquaculture, environmental conservation, farriery, fencing, fisheries management, game and wildlife, horticulture, landscaping and sports turf, production horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber. • For more information: www.lantra.co.uk/women-and-work/ About Lantra • Lantra is the Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries, working to ensure these businesses access the training, qualifications, skills and knowledge they need. • Lantra represents 17 industries: agricultural livestock and crops; animal care; animal technology; aquaculture; environmental conservation; equine; farriery; fencing; fisheries management; floristry; game and wildlife management; land-based engineering; horticulture, landscaping and sports turf; production horticulture; trees and timber and veterinary activities. • By working together with the sector, Lantra leads research on skills issues and business needs, sets national standards and develops qualifications to meet modern business needs and help businesses grow through skills. • For more information see www.lantra.co.uk.

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