TWO trees and timber trainees have won awards at Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills), which took place at a special virtual ceremony on Thursday, 4 March.

Alex Patterson, 21, from Blairgowrie, has won the Trees and Timber Learner of the Year category, while David McMillan, 26, from Tomatin near Inverness, was runner-up.

Alex has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Trees and Timber with Forestry and Land Scotland, through the Scottish School of Forestry. He said: It’s great to be nominated for an ALBAS award. Forestry management is a practical, varied, outdoor career that allows you to preserve woodlands and wildlife habitats for current and future generations.”

David has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship SCQF Level 6 in Trees and Timber at Forestry and Land Scotland, through the Scottish School of Forestry.

Employers, colleges, trainees and their families joined the online event which was hosted by Liz Barron-Majerik, Director of Lantra Scotland and Jim Smith, well-known Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian. The awards were officially opened by Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes, who praised the nominees for continuing to develop their skills and helping to drive forward their rural communities, making them sustainable places to live, work and thrive.

Rural industries covered were agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, environmental conservation, horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber.

As well as prizes for Overall Winner, Runner-up and Modern Apprentice of the Year, there was the Anna Murray Award for Partnership Working, awards for Higher Education, School Pupil and Secondary Schools, CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies), Jean’s Jam for inspirational tutor and the Tam Tod Trophy for outstanding young learner.

The Anna Murray Partnership Working Award, now in its second year, was won by the Growing Rural Talent Project in the South of Scotland. The organisations involved provide funding and support to address gaps in the accessibility and availability of training in key areas of the rural economy, including forestry, agriculture and horticulture.

RHASS also supports a Secondary Schools Award in recognition of schools with exceptional standards in rural skills training. The winner this year was Meldrum Academy in Aberdeenshire, with Falkirk High School taking up the runner-up spot.

Jean’s Jam Award, for an inspiring mentor or trainer, went to Julie McCrorie. Julie is a specialist teacher in Rosshall Academy’s visual impairment unit and worked on delivering the NPA in Horticulture with Glasgow Clyde College. The prize was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend Jean Costello.

The Tam Tod Trophy went to Niall Provan, the ALBAS 2021 Overall Winner. This award is made in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner and was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.

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

According to Lantra Scotland’s Director, Liz Barron-Majerik, there were some fantastic entries for the ALBAS, and everyone who was nominated should be very proud of their achievements.

She said: “This time last year the ALBAS were very different, but I’m delighted we’ve still been able to honour Scotland’s top learners in 2021. It’s been a challenging year for many in our sector, but we’re focussing on the future and recognising the work of some of our key workers and learners.

"The ALBAS are a very effective way of highlighting their success, and of getting employers involved in growing the next generation of talent.

"As well as the generous sponsors of our event, I’d also like to thank Keith Paterson and his team of independent judges, who commit an enormous amount of unpaid time to reviewing the nominations and interviewing short-listed candidates.”

To see a recording of the ALBAS visit or