Talent recognised at inaugural LBEL awards

Talent recognised at inaugural LBEL awards: Aspiring turf specialist, Martin Foster, an apprentice at Askham Bryan College, was rewarded for his learning excellence at this week’s glittering Land-based & Environment Learner Awards Ceremony.

The Land-based & Environment Learner (LBEL) Awards were launched this June by leading land-based training & qualification awarding body Lantra, and the representative body for land-based colleges and universities, Landex.

The Awards were open to apprentices, further education and higher education learners working and studying in land-based and environmental sectors between September 2021 and September 2022.

The aim is to reward top candidates in industries including agriculture and horticulture, forestry, environmental conservation, turf management, landscaping, and equine, amongst others.

These sectors face skills shortages and low levels of diversity, and both Lantra and Landex working hard to attract new blood and equip recruits with the key skills they need to succeed.

With the celebration of new talent at the LBEL Awards, it is hoped more potential entrants will recognise the various land-based industries as rewarding career choices with exciting long-term prospects.

In its inaugural year, organisers received over 120 nominations across 10 categories and a panel of industry professionals picked, where appropriate, an outstanding apprentice and an outstanding learner in each category.

This year, the judges picked just an outstanding apprentice in the Sports Turf & Greenkeeping category, Martin Foster. The oldest candidate to be nominated, the judges praised Martin for his motivation to change careers later in life and his complete passion and enthusiasm for his role.

The Awards ceremony, held at Reaseheath College on 22 November 2023, was attended by Minster of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Mark Spencer MP, celebrity farmer Adam Henson, and more than 200 guests.

On receiving the Award, sponsored by GroundsFest, from Adam Henson, Martin commented:

“I’m confident that undertaking my apprenticeship, albeit somewhat later life, has truly set me on my career path for the future. Winning this Award has reinforced that I’m actually really good at what I do, and being celebrated by so many industry professionals has certainly given my confidence a boost”.

Chair of the judging panel, and land-based business consultant, John Moverley of JMM Solutions, said he was honoured to help identify the very best of learners, like Martin, who are now making their mark on the industry.

“To keep pace with the technological and environmental challenges we face in the land-based sector, it is crucial that the skills and knowledge of the current workforce are completed with a generation of forward thinking and enthusiastic new recruits, whatever their age.

“And what better way to establish this new generation than through hands-on apprenticeships,” he added.

Commenting on the Awards and paying tribute to all the winners, host Adam Henson said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been invited to host the very first Land-based and Environment Learner Awards. In my various roles, I’m lucky enough to encounter some amazing people who are passionate about their jobs and are a complete inspiration. Tonight was no exception. The level of enthusiasm, professionalism and passion, blew me away – a big well done to everyone”.

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