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RAU graduate wins rural entrepreneur award
Lewis Steer, graduate from the BSc (Hons) Rural Land Management course at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), was named Young Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Year at the Three Counties Farming Conference last week, 17 November 2016.
The Young Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Year award acknowledges the hard work, dedication, and innovative thinking of young entrepreneurs – four were shortlisted and judges Jess Vaughan (Jess’s Ladies Organic Milk) and last year’s winner Joe Evans (Green Cow Kitchens) chose the winner.
Lewis, aged 21, set up The Dartmoor Shepherd earlier this year to sell meat from his flock of Greyface Dartmoor, Whiteface Dartmoor and Devon and Cornwall Longwool sheep. The company also sells sheepskins.
He said: “I am delighted to have won this award – I have always wanted to put Dartmoor farming on the map while adding value to every aspect of my own business. The award will mean that I can take my lamb to shows and festivals, extending the business even further.”
A partner in Lily Warne Wool with his mother Paula, Lewis has already received awards for his entrepreneurship – he won a Rural Business Award in two categories last year – Best Business Start-up and Champion of Champions, with his mother.
Mary Wathen, Head of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, and one of the driving forces behind the award, said: “This award recognises young people and businesses in agriculture, with all the hard work and innovation involved. If we continue to promote and support people like them, the industry will continue to thrive. I am delighted for Lewis; not only does he receive £3,000 to invest in the business, but I hope that he has made many new contacts and business relationships – something which will stand him in good stead as his business goes forward.”
Ken Nottage, CEO at the Three Counties Agricultural Society, said: “It has been incredibly rewarding to see the number of applicants for the Young Agricultural Entrepreneur award 2016. We pride ourselves on supporting educational initiatives and it is great to see the prize money going to Lewis Steer; we look forward to seeing how his business benefits from winning the award.”
Sarah Wilkinson from Agrii said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring and presenting this highly regarded award to such a worthy winner and our congratulations go to Mr Steer. The judges really had their work cut out in choosing between these enthusiastic, highly motivated and knowledgeable young people. Congratulations to all of the finalists this year.”
The finalists included both traditional and innovative rural enterprises – all of which shared an adherence to local produce and employment, using local resources of all kinds in the development of their businesses, bringing benefits to their own communities as well as to their own businesses.
RAU alumnus Charlie Beldam of Cotswold Gold was named a finalist for his rapeseed oil, recognising his high-quality products and commitment to supporting small, local producers.