TWO young trainees have told of their delight after being named among the finalists for this year's Lantra Scotland’s Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills (the ALBAS).

Harry Evans, from Beauly in Inverness-shire, and Fife's Kevin Pearson fought off competition from across the country to receive their nominations in the trees and timber category. 

Harry is doing his HNC in arboriculture and urban forestry at the Scottish School of Forestry UHI Inverness, while Kevin is doing an SVQ in trees and timber while working as a forestry apprentice at Rural Skills Scotland. 

“My interest in working outdoors and the physical aspects of forestry drew me to the Scottish School of Forestry as it was most ideally situated," said Harry. "Working with machines and chainsaws as well as learning about the wider industries and related industries has been the most rewarding element to my learning and development.”

Kevin, from Ballingry, said: “I have always loved the outdoors. Plants and trees fascinate me, from growing them to woodworking. I knew I wanted to work with trees for a very long time but didn’t have the confidence and know how to get into the industry. I am beyond thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to pursue it now.”

The ALBAS play a vital role in promoting careers within the rural sector, celebrating the achievements of learners and highlighting the importance to employers of investing in skills.

Host for the evening will be the Red Shepherdess, otherwise known as Hannah Jackson, a farmer, public speaker, writer, adventurer and photographer.
Industry categories at this year’s ALBAS cover agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, game and wildlife, horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber.

As well as prizes for overall winner, runner-up and modern apprentice of the year, there are also awards for higher education, school pupil and secondary schools, CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies), a mentor award for inspirational tutor, the Tam Tod Trophy and the Anna Murray Award for Partnership Working. 

Forestry Journal: The awards will be presented by the Red ShepherdessThe awards will be presented by the Red Shepherdess

Finalists for ALBAS 2024 were selected by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector, chaired by Keith Paterson of Forestry and Land Scotland. Bringing his horticultural expertise to the panel for the first time this year is David Knott, curator of living collections, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Dr Liz Barron-Majerik, director of Lantra Scotland, said: “Our ALBAS have an important role to play in highlighting the achievements of new entrants and career changers in our sector, and in showing people the benefits of skills development and partnership working. " 

Tickets for the awards ceremony – held at Crieff Hydro on March 7 - are available from Lantra Scotland on 01738 310164 or