Winning 2016 Norfolk Farming Scholars announced

Oscar Smith and Anna Purser
Oscar Smith and Anna Purser

Two students have won prestigious places at farming’s foremost industry event after they were named as Norfolk Scholars 2016.

The Norfolk Scholar Initiative is organised by Bidwells and the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA).

Oscar Smith

Oscar Smith

The scholars have been named as Anna Purser, 20, from Raveningham and Oscar Smith, 21, from Hellesdon, who are both currently studying at the Easton and Otley College.

As part of the initiative, the pair will attend the prestigious three-day Oxford Farming Conference in January where they will hear from international and national speakers within the agricultural sector.

Anna’s career ambition is to enter the livestock nutrition sector of the agricultural industry.

She said: “I am delighted to have been chosen as a Norfolk Scholar and cannot wait to attend the Oxford Farming Conference. Attending such a prestigious event, will be extremely beneficial to my career path, will enable me to talk to others already employed in the industry and also to people who have perhaps set up their own businesses and I will then be able to find out their views on what it is like to work within the agricultural industry.

“I am delighted to have been chosen as a Norfolk Scholar and cannot wait to attend the Oxford Farming Conference. Attending such a prestigious event, will be extremely beneficial to my career path, will enable me to talk to others already employed in the industry and also to people who have perhaps set up their own businesses and I will then be able to find out their views on what it is like to work within the agricultural industry.”

Anna Purser

“I also feel that the experience will provide me with indefinite advice and information which I would hope will help me for many years to come.”

Oscar said his ambition is to run his own small farm as a self-supporting business which will connect mainstream agriculture with the general public. He would also like to research and dissect methods and principles of mixed agriculture in order to increase the efficiency of the UK agricultural practice.

He added: “Attending the OFC will enable me to network with people who I would not normally have access to. It will also allow me to broaden my agricultural horizons as well as deepening my agricultural understanding. I will be able to discuss my goals and ambitions with influential people and gain invaluable advice on how to achieve and succeed. I would also like to thank the RNAA and Bidwells for giving me this great opportunity.”

The conference is a leading forum where experts and farming professionals discuss the ever-changing industry and the opportunities this can bring.

Anna Purser

Anna Purser

Speakers at the event can include policy makers, politicians, academics, scientists, farmers, food chain representatives and even diplomats.

The ‘Norfolk Scholar’ programme was designed to underpin the future of the region’s agriculture sector and it is now in its third year.

The programme enables two people aged between 18 and 35, who live work and/or study in Norfolk, to attend the Oxford Farming Conference.

To qualify for the fully-funded scholarship, applicants had to submit a short précis on how their attendance at the conference could benefit their professional lives and the challenges facing UK agriculture.

Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), said: “The calibre of applicants was again extremely high and both Oscar and Anna were highly focussed individuals who demonstrated their commitment to establishing successful careers in agriculture.

“As an association we have a strong focus on bringing bright young people into the industry and I am confident Anna and Oscar with prove to be role models for the next generation of school leavers and graduates looking to start their careers in the agricultural sector.”   

John Coates from Bidwells, said: “Both Anna and Oscar showed real drive and ambition during their interviews and were very passionate. I was deeply impressed by their commitment to put something back into the region’s agricultural sector through their clearly defined career plans.

“It is great that through the Norfolk Scholar initiative we are able to help these two young talented people have the opportunity to attend the conference where they will be able to hear from, and network with, a host of high level industry experts.”

Last year’s scholar winners, Emma Slater and Tom Oates, both said that attending the conference had been a brilliant experience and a great opportunity to meet a range of interesting people and gain a valuable insight into the industry.