A STUDENT from Haslington is off to agricultural bootcamp later this month in the hope of winning a £10,000 prize to kick-start her farming career.
Rebecca Kelsall, an Agri-Business student at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, entered the Farmers Weekly Apprentice competition, which aims to find the best young business minds in agriculture.
To enter the competition Rebecca submitted a short video, filmed on a friend’s farm, that detailed why she should be the next Farmers Apprentice.
The judges were suitably impressed with her entry and Rebecca was selected as one of 10 finalists in the national competition.
She is now heading to Norfolk where she will attempt to impress judges during a week-long crash course in how to run a modern farming operation.
21-year-old Rebecca said: "It just seemed like such an exciting opportunity and ties in so well with my career aspirations.
"I'm really pleased to have been shortlisted and excited to be going to bootcamp, but a little nervous as some of the tasks from the previous competition look daunting.
"But I'm looking forward to meeting new people and learning some new skills."
Despite having had no previous experience of pig farming, Rebecca took the plunge and established a business breeding rare breed saddleback pigs in August 2013.
Her business – named Pigling Pork - now sells a variety of free-range, outdoor-reared pork products including sausages and roasting joints.
Rebecca rears her stock at her uncle's farm in Lower Withington and also works as a relief milker for dairy farmers across Cheshire, but is currently taking a 12-month break from the business to concentrate on her university placement year.
She said: "The business has been going really well but I'm taking a short break as I'm off to Genus as a Breeding Programme Administrator.
"As for the competition, I'm preparing by doing some research into business ideas and entrepreneurship, as well as driving all sorts of tractors and machines. Luckily I'm prepared for the livestock side through my experience at work.
"If I win, I'd incorporate the prize money into Pigling Pork, perhaps investing in some land closer to home to enable me to buy some more stock and keep a closer eye on the business."