A YOUNG forestry trainee was top of the chops as she claimed a prestigious award this week. 

Apprentice Rachel Orchard took home the Trees and Timber Learner of the Year Award at Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills) at a gala dinner in Dunblane on Thursday. 

With the 23-year-old narrowly edging out Victoria Potts, 24, who claimed the runner up prize, it was quite the night for the two Aberdeenshire-based Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) candidates. 

READ MORE: Trees and timber trainees named finalists in Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS 2022

Rachel said: “What a great night it’s been. To be presented with this award is something very special.

"Thank you to the Scottish School of Forestry for all their support and guidance and for nominating me in the first place.”

Elsewhere, the recently established Anna Murray Partnership Working Award was presented by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) to Tilhill and Borders College.

Forestry Journal: Victoria Potts shows off her award with Cammy WilsonVictoria Potts shows off her award with Cammy Wilson

The college picked up the award for their inspiring work delivering exciting rural educational training and experiences to secondary school youngsters. The partnership aims to inspire young people to become the new generation of foresters to plant, maintain and manage forests.

Tony Lockey, group learning and development manager at Tilhill, said: “We thank the ALBAS judges for selecting us and Borders College for this prestigious award.

"It is an honour and humbling to be recognised. We are delighted to be working with our partners Borders College to continue developing and improving our educational training programmes for the next generation of rural trainees and apprentices.”

Having taken place as a virtual event last year due to Covid restrictions, the ALBAS returned to Dunblane with over 180 finalists, event supporters, employers, training providers, industry leaders and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon attending.

Forestry Journal: Mairi Gougeon was among the guests Mairi Gougeon was among the guests

Ms Gougeon said: “What a great night spent honouring some hardworking and inspiring people across Scotland’s land-based and aquaculture sectors.

"I just want to put on record what a truly spectacular group of individuals we have in the finalists and winners.

"I’m so proud to see the incredible work they are already doing and look forward to seeing them all continue in their careers.”

To find out more about the ALBAS, visit www.scotland.lantra.co.uk/learner-year