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The achievements of the country’s top land-based and aquaculture trainees were celebrated last night (Thursday 5th March) at Lantra Scotland’s 18th and biggest ever learner of the year awards, the ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills).

The event, sponsored by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and held at Dunblane Hydro, was hosted by Jim Smith, well-known Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian.

Jim presented the winners and runners-up awards for agriculture, aquaculture, equine, environmental conservation, game and wildlife, horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber industries.

Game and Wildlife trainee Charlie Blance had won the Overall Winner Award, the highest accolade of the night. Charlie, aged 20 from Methven, Perthshire, did an HNC in Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management through Borders College, then worked at Dunan Estate in Pitlochry.

Overall Runner-up was Shaun MacLeod, who was also the Modern Apprentice of the Year Winner, a joint CARAS winner, and winner of the agriculture category. Shaun, aged 17 from Urquhart, Elgin, has been doing an apprenticeship in agriculture with Matheson's Ltd through Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Katie Fox, Skills Planning Manager for the rural economy at SDS, said:

“What a fantastic occasion! All the finalists and winners at the ALBAS should be incredibly proud of their achievements. It’s been wonderful to be able to share in their success and I know that each of them is a fantastic ambassador for the land-based and aquaculture industries. 

“SDS is really proud to support the work of Lantra and the ALBAS in particular.  The awards are a tremendous celebration of the skills and talent being developed in this sector - and shine a spotlight on the quality and range of careers available.

“The land-based and aquaculture sector plays an important role within the rural economy and work-based learning helps to develop the skills that employers are looking for. So it was particularly fitting that these awards took place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.” 

Lantra’s Scotland Director, Liz Barron-Majerik, said:

“The ALBAS showcase the many incredible people who have joined Scotland’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries and who are getting their careers underway.

“I know our judges were very impressed again with the quality of the nominations, so I would like to congratulate all of the finalists, as well as the winners. They were all of a very high standard indeed.”

The ALBAS are organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries.

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