This year's winner of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ John Deere Training Award is Andrew Meredith from Powys. After completing the course, Andrew moved from the family beef & sheep farm to a new job on the arable desk at Farmers Weekly, following his work experience placement there and a previous stint as a monthly columnist for the Farmlife section.
Joint runners-up are Richard Bradley, who was joining Farmers Guardian as machinery and farm technology specialist shortly after the course, and zoology graduate Nicole Coombs, whose work experience placement was also at Farmers Guardian. The other work experience host was RDP Advertising & Marketing, and non-award trainees included Guild members Stuart Booker of Kendalls PR & Marketing and Hannah Wilson of Pinstone Communications.
The 2016 course took place as usual at John Deere Limited's UK headquarters in July. For the final award, the 11 course members were asked to write a news story of no more than 500 words in the form of a case study on an Open Farm Sunday host farm. The winning entries can be found on both the Guild and John Deere websites.
This year’s entries were judged by specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord, the Guild’s Awards Secretary Louise Impey and Open Farm Sunday Manager Annabel Shackleton of LEAF. They commented: “We all agreed the clear winner was Andrew Meredith's article ‘More Welsh farmers sought for Open Farm Sunday’, which was the best news story. It met the brief, read very well, contained the relevant facts and figures and had a strong message. It was a really good effort.”
Andrew received his winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch at Painters’ Hall in London in September. Richard Bradley and Nicole Coombs were also presented with their runners-up framed certificates and a cheque each for £50 by Guild chairman Ben Briggs, editor of Farmers Guardian.
This was the 24th John Deere Training Award, which started in 1991. The course is based on two days of lectures on the basics of writing news and features and interviewing techniques, followed by three or more days of practical work experience with a range of farming and horticultural journals or communications businesses.
The John Deere Training Award is designed to support the Guild in one of its principal aims - that of promoting schemes for the provision of suitable entrants into agricultural and horticultural journalism. Since it began, approaching 40 course members have found employment as in-house or freelance journalists on national farming and horticultural magazines or websites and with specialist PR companies (not including those already employed when they attended the course).
• Copies of the three winning articles can be seen here. For further details of the 2017 course, please contact Steve Mitchell of ASM Public Relations Ltd – telephone 01926 812210 or 07717 213182, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org