Photo: Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Paterson at Westons Cider to see the new Cider and Top Fruit Apprenticeship in action.
From left to right: Henry Weston, Tom Churchill - Cider Fruit Apprentice, Helen Thomas, Owen Paterson, Tim Lock (who gained his Advanced Apprenticeship in Agriculture at Holme Lacy), Tim Weston
Staff and students at HCT’s Holme Lacy Campus welcomed Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to the college this week. The Secretary of State used the visit to launch Defra’s £20M Skills Programme a new initiative funded through the Rural Development Programme for England. As Herefordshire’s principal provider of land-based education in subjects such as agricultural, horticultural and forestry, Holme Lacy students are amongst those set to benefit from the Government’s latest initiative to help stimulate growth in the rural economy.
It is hoped 90,000 people from across the country will benefit from subsidised courses in subjects such as rural business management, marketing and information technology, helping them to exploit business opportunities in the home and export markets. The Herefordshire Rural Hub, based at the Holme Lacy Campus, have been credited with establishing a strong rural network and will be instrumental in assisting local businessmen and businesswomen to benefit from the programme.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said: “Having the right skills to run a business is crucial if budding entrepreneurs want to be successful. For too long the needs of rural business people have been overlooked. Those days are now over. Businesses in the remotest parts of the country will now have access to the best training so they can grow and help our country to compete even more in the global race.”
As part of the visit, the Secretary met Agriculture, Forestry and Farriery students. Assistant Principal for the Holme Lacy Campus, Rob Dunn commented, “We were delighted to welcome the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to the campus. Agriculture, horticulture and forestry are the core to the Skills Programme and central to our work; we were very pleased to have our work recognised and praised by the Environment Secretary.”
After the campus visit, the tour continued to Weston’s Cider in Much Marcle. Rob Dunn added, “The visit to Weston’s Cider gave us a great opportunity to raise the profile of our new apprenticeship programme for cider growers, developed in partnership with TW Associates, the National Association of Cider Makers, and recognised by the governments National Apprenticeship Service as a model venture"