RAU student wins prestigious John Innes Foundation Bursary

A Royal Agricultural University (RAU) student who has had his sights set firmly on a career in farming since he was a young boy has been awarded a prestigious bursary for those entering the industry from a non-farming background.

Kirk Stamford’s “gritty determination”, along with endorsement from previous employers, helped him win the independent John Innes Foundation bursary which supports young people starting their farm management and crop production careers.

Inspired by the need to grow food to feed the population, and the impressive machinery used to do so, the 18-year-old from Ely in Cambridgeshire has dreamt of working in agriculture from a very young age.

“I studied A Levels at Hills Road Sixth Form in Cambridge with an ambition to gain a place at the Royal Agricultural University. My family have always been very supportive towards my career choice.

“My ambition is to leave the RAU with the relevant qualifications to become a farm manager in the future. The RAU will help immensely due to the course that I am studying, having lecturers that are specialists in the areas that they teach as well as the practical skills that can be learnt at the skills centre,” said Kirk who is a first year undergraduate student studying Applied Farm Management.

The funding will pay Kirk’s complete course fees and he will also benefit from expert mentoring from farm management company Velcourt.

“I am extremely grateful to be awarded the bursary. The work opportunities and the contacts with Velcourt that it provides are very useful indeed.

“With an ageing workforce and many important challenges that will have to be faced, the industry is going to rely on young people to drive it forward.

“Bursaries like this offer an opportunity for young talent to push further forward in the industry,” said Kirk who works on a 12,000+ acre arable farm in Cambridgeshire when he is not studying.

Keith Norman, an independent consultant and trustee of the John Innes Foundation said: "The John Innes Foundation continues to support and encourage young entrants from non-farming backgrounds hoping to enter a career in farm management and crop production.

“The award is a competitive process and the bursary repays the academic costs over three years. This year's beneficiary is Kirk Stamford whose gritty determination to forge a career in farming was clear to see. An excellent reference from his previous employments added to the trustees’ decision. We are looking forward to seeing his progression through his academic studies and his career develop as a result of our support."

As well as entering students for external awards such as the John Innes Foundation, the RAU offers a range of scholarships and support packages including the Core Bursary for students from lower income families and the Widening Access Financial Support Bursary for those living in areas with lower progression rates to university.