Scottish School of Forestry success at the Lantra Scotland Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills (ALBAS)

MODERN apprentices at the Scottish School of Forestry, part of Inverness College UHI, have been recognised in this year’s Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills (ALBAS) run by Lantra Scotland.

The awards celebrate the achievements of trainees in Scotland’s rural sector. 

Rachel Orchard (24), from Banchory, was crowned winner in the Trees and Timber learner of the year category, with Victoria Potts (24), from Banchory, named runner-up, at the awards ceremony on Thursday (3rd March). 

Rachel and Victoria are doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Trees and Timber at Forestry and Land Scotland and train through the Scottish School of Forestry.  

Lecturer Neil Stewart, who leads on the Modern Apprenticeship in Trees and Timber at the Scottish School of Forestry, was also named most inspiring mentor, taking home the Jean’s Jam Award. 

Rachel, who is based with Forestry and Land Scotland in Durris, Aberdeenshire, said: “I am overwhelmed, grateful and honoured to win this award. The last year has been a wonderful experience of diving into the forestry world. I have gained a plethora of skills thanks to my knowledgeable mentors and their invaluable support, particularly my managers Jenna Finney and Laura Henderson along with my Scottish School of Forestry tutor Neil Stewart.” 

Victoria, who is also based in Durris, added: “Having had such a positive time training as a modern apprentice over the past year, being recognised as a runner up by LANTRA has been a rewarding experience, which I am very proud of. Through training with Forestry and Land Scotland and the Scottish School of Forestry, I have gained an array of new abilities and skills creating a strong foundation of knowledge to build upon as my career progresses.” 

Neil Stewart has worked at the school for almost 38 years, first as a technician then a lecturer. He said: “I am totally shocked and humbled. When they announced the winner, I was busy looking round the room looking for another Neil Stewart. I never in a million years imagined I would be nominated for an award like this. The modern apprentices have been a pleasure to teach, and I look forward to working with them as their careers develop.” 

Neil Cleland, Depute Head at the Scottish School of Forestry, added: “Winning an ALBAS award is a huge achievement and I am incredibly proud of our modern apprentices, the hard work they have shown this year and passion for our industry. Neil has been an inspiration to hundreds of Scottish School of Forestry students and this award is fitting of his commitment to the training and mentoring of those who want to enter this exciting and thriving industry.” 

Sixteen modern apprentices are currently receiving training via the Scottish School of Forestry. 

For more information about the ALBAS awards and the 2022 winners, visit: Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS 22 winners revealed | Lantra - Scotland