Funds help young farmer in his studies


A YOUNG farmer has been able to continue his studies in agriculture thanks to a community funding grant.

Lewis Hunter, who lives near West Woodburn, is one of 14 students on an agriculture college course, and must travel between Newton Rigg College, Penrith, and its satellite offices at Hexham Mart to complete his training.

The 16-year-old, who was schooled at West Woodburn, Bellingham and Haydon Bridge, relies on his mother to drive him on his college days.

Mother Caroline explained: “Lewis is totally committed to the farming life, but there is no public transport serving our area, so until he passes his driving test, it falls to me or a family member to ferry him to his agricultural lessons.”

But the farming family have now been awarded a travel grant by Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Farm Fund to support his studies.

The Steel, where the family farms, lies in the Ray Wind Farm’s area of benefit around Kirkwhelpington. Caroline and her husband Andrew farm a suckler herd in addition to 1,650 Leicester, Blackface and mule sheep.

Lewis said: “The Ray Wind Funds’ help towards travel costs is very welcome while I complete my training.”

Newton Rigg tutor Peter Armstrong, a sheep farmer from Cumbria, convinced the board of the community funding group to offer financial help in the form of a travel grant for youngsters such as Lewis, easing the burden of travel costs to rural families.

Lewis added: “Newton Rigg’s stockperson apprenticeship course is very comprehensive and Peter is a first class tutor, ensuring that whatever we learn at home on the farm, is compatible with our Newton Rigg syllabus.”

Although Lewis is a capable pair of hands on the farm, he still has to qualify in telehandling and complete his ATV course.

His days spent at the Hexham satellite office are classroom days, learning about veterinary medicines, animal feeds and supplements, clipping sheep and first aid.

The academic work and practical work run in parallel and Lewis expects to qualify next year.

Peter said: “Newton Rigg is a fantastic option for apprentice agriculture. The grant is a great plus for students, enabling them to achieve enhanced experience on the programme and will help farming parents with their young farmers in education.”

The coronavirus pandemic has currently halted studies, but Lewis is determined to pass all his qualifications before returning to his parents’ farm to fulfill his future farming ambitions.


By Bill Edgar @CourantBill