Today, Wednesday 23rd March, HRH The Prince of Wales met with a group of Cumbrian young farmers learning practical flood resilience driving skills at the Rookin House Activity Centre near Penrith. The visit marks a renewed three-year partnership between his charity, The Prince’s Countryside Fund and Land Rover with this year’s launch of The Prince’s Countryside Fund Land Rover bursary scheme.
This valuable bursary seeks to award up to five inspiring young people aged 21 to 35 the use of a Land Rover Discovery Sport for a year to support the development of their countryside careers.
The UK countryside is in desperate need of talented young people. The average age of a British farmer is 59 and only 4% of the UK’s farmers are under 35. Environmental conservation requires an estimated 30,000 new entrants by 2020 to maintain and protect our countryside, while in forestry, 53% of the workforce is over the age of 40.
During his visit to Cumbria, HRH The Prince of Wales joined the young farmers in their vehicle training as they developed skills in driving and reversing trailers in and around obstacles, learnt how to check water depth and flow of flooding before carefully driving through the water, and navigated their way around an off-road driving circuit.
He also met Mark Curr, Helen Rebanks and her son Issac, the first recipients of the Land Rover Bursary in 2013, to find out how it benefited them. Mark runs a sheep enterprise and is the Chairman of Cumbria Young Farmers; an association that supports young farmers in the region. Helen and her husband James Rebanks are hill farmers at Racy Ghyll Farm, Matterdale. Helen used the Land Rover to transport school children to their “Herdwick School” on the farm, educating the next generation about life and farming on the fells.
HRH The Prince of Wales joined the young farmers in training, getting behind the wheel of a Discovery Sport and drove through a beck experiencing the techniques of how to drive in water and negotiate the rocky river bed under the guidance of a Land Rover Experience Instructor.
Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director said, “Land Rover is synonymous with the countryside and we’re looking for the UK’s most enterprising young people who would benefit from the use of a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Access to a 4x4 vehicle can be crucial to getting a rural business off the ground. By providing a vehicle with capability to tackle the most challenging of rural terrains, space for seven and excellent towing capacity, we are aiming to help five ambitious young people to further their rural careers.”
Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said “There’s an acute need for young people to be supported to enter farming and related careers and a multitude of opportunity waiting for them. Whether you’re new to farming, starting a “field to fork” food business or keen to bring new technologies and your skills to the countryside, The Prince’s Countryside Fund is here to support you. That’s why we’re delighted to be working in partnership with Land Rover to provide such practical and valuable support to young people starting out in their rural careers.”
Applications must be made online by 29th April 2016. The Prince’s Countryside Fund Land Rover Bursary is open to UK residents aged between 21 to 35 living and working in a rural area. For more information, terms and conditions and details on how to apply please visit: www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk