I am not from a farming family, I was born and bred in Leeds and worked on a local farm on weekends and during school holidays. Following school I studied a National Diploma in Agriculture at Bishop Burton and worked on a sheep and beef farm in New Zealand afterwards.
I moved to a remote valley in Upper Nidderdale and heard about the Farmer Network Low Interest Loan Programme from a farmer who I was lambing for at the time. At age 23, I thought that it sounded like a way of progressing my long-term idea of becoming a farmer in my own right.
Three years on, I have a number of farmers who I work for regularly, as well as my own expanding flock of horned and mule sheep aiming to run 150 ewes by the end of the year. This flock is hopefully a step towards a farm tenancy in the long run.
The Explore Enterprise course gave me a wake-up call about the paperwork and planning that goes with running a business. I also found it helpful talking to others on the course to test out ideas and pick up new ones. My allocated business adviser, John Pedley helped me to think through and plan a way forward and gave me confidence.
As with most business plans and life, nothing works out just as you plan it, but I feel that doing the course and the planning helped me to become more self-reliant and able to adapt.
This has involved breeding more of my own replacements, building a regular and expanding farm-work base and taking on more shearing through working with another contractor. I feel that I am now well-placed to take on more grazing or
look for a tenancy and I have a proven track record on paying back borrowed money.
The Prince’s Trust loan process was testing, but very straightforward and I would recommend it to other young people wanting to get on and take opportunities that are just out of reach from their present circumstances