What better way for RHET to celebrate 21 years educating youngsters about farming, food and the countryside, than to hold a much anticipated Gala Dinner, to raise funds and to give their supporters a night to remember.

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) works with volunteers to provide free educational activities and experiential learning opportunities for Scotland’s children. Arranging farm visits and classroom education and providing teacher training and educational resources, RHET’s purpose is to bring farming and the working countryside and its practices to life for young people.

2020 marks the 21st birthday of the highly respected charity and so, in celebration, they are organising a Gala Dinner with a difference. The evening will treat guests to a three course meal of delicious Scottish produce, much of which will have been produced by RHET volunteer farmers and will be expertly prepared by the chef from Saltire Hospitality, entertainment from farmer, comedian and compere Jim Smith, as well as music and pipers, and last but not least, live and silent auctions with dozens of unique and exciting prizes and experiences.

Prizes up for grabs include concert tickets (which are already sold out) for a famous artist, a dining experience at Harvey Nichols, wine-tasting, wonderful accommodation and holiday offers, a personal styling experience and a ‘money can’t buy’ experience with a Michelin starred chef.

The auction, in particular, will be a showstopper, including a number of ‘money can’t buy’ items such as ‘Curly Sue’ the Highland cow, made by Kev Paxton at ArtFe, which travelled around Scotland with George Lawrie on the RHET Tractor Run this summer. Individuals or businesses able to contribute prizes or support the event through gifts in kind, sponsorship or goodie bag donations are encouraged to get in touch as soon as possible.

Katrina Barclay, RHET Executive officer, said: “A Gala Dinner like this is a first for RHET and we are so excited. I am determined that our guests will enjoy an evening with a difference that will truly entertain, as well as providing a wonderful Scottish dining experience. Fundraising is key to any event like this, but so too is ensuring that our guests have a fantastic evening and go away feeling as though their donation was thoroughly worthwhile.

“If you can’t make it along that night, never fear, you can still bid on the auction prizes. Social media is going to be absolutely key in helping us to spread the word and fundraise for the dinner and so please do keep an eye on that over coming weeks to find various fun ways you can get involved.

“I know it’s a busy time of year but please do get your tickets booked for this much-anticipated event so that you are not disappointed. We are putting every effort into making sure that the evening is exciting, unique and fun, as well as raising much-needed funds for RHET. It will be the perfect evening for entertaining clients or customers or to enjoy with friends, old and new.

“We are also still seeking more auction prizes and other commercial support and sponsorship to help with our fundraising goals and so if you have anything you can contribute, I should be delighted to hear from you. Everything we raise will be used across the entire RHET national network.

Katrina continues: “The next generation is critical to Scotland and so the more we can work together to give them a deeper understand of farming and food production, the more that rural Scotland will continue to get the recognition it deserves. We’d love you to support us in that aim in whatever way you can.”


"It was over 20 years ago now that I first attended the meeting in the National Museum of Rural Life, where a proposal was discussed about creating a charity to educate our young folk about food, farming and the impact it has on us all. As a primary school teacher, farmer’s wife and daughter my nose was bothering me, but none of us there had any real idea of what was to come – from small seeds great things really do grow.

"The purpose of RHET remains the same, but the impact it has had on our children has never been so great and valuable. A small army of volunteers with farming connections visits schools across Scotland, giving first-hand information of how the food on your plate gets to you.

"Thousands of children from nursery right through to those studying advanced highers, can visit local farms and see the incredible work farmers do with thought, care and diligence. There are outdoor events held in all areas for classes to attend, teacher training events and of course that wonderful showcase of the Royal Highland Show.

"My own children have spent many happy and engaging hours in the RHET tent, learning about everything from grinding flour to how to create a fabulous stir fry using Scottish produce. In an age where farming is becoming increasingly a political pawn, it is good to know that children are being taught that buying locally, considering traceability and animal welfare is at the forefront of excellent Scottish farming practice.

"RHET are not only educating children, but teachers too. I have the luxury of a farming background when teaching, but of course I am in the minority. The portal which was launched this year ensures that teachers have the tools to teach about farming accurately and at the appropriate level. This incredible resource is fully linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, free, and packed with everything a busy teacher needs to give full and balanced lessons to their class. And so the impact that RHET has on our young people stretches even further.

"So next time you hear of a RHET event in your area, or someone tells you they are on the local committee, why not drop in? It doesn’t take much of your time and there is usually tea, cakes and a blether involved. But what you give will be appreciated in so many different ways.

The future of RHET has never been so bright, so I for one will be happy to raise a glass and wish RHET a very happy birthday.

Christine Carruth, Kilmacolm Primary School teacher, and RHET committee member


Host farmer James Logan, has been involved with RHET for the past 15 years, and countless children have enjoyed visiting his arable farm, Athelstaneford Mains, in North Berwick, and are continually delighted to find out about the process of how the humble spud appears on their plate.

James says: “When the children come to the farm we can show them the potatoes being lifted from the ground, which is always a magical moment when they see them come up through the soil, how they are chipped, processed, and then loaded onto a lorry to get to the supermarket. I would say that maybe 80% of the children don’t realise where potatoes come from.

“It shows them the amount of effort it takes to grow a crop, take it from the ground and then ready them for the market. It also shows the children the different roles, and careers that are in the farming industry. These kids are our future, and it might just help them realise that there are plenty of job in farming that they might want to get involved in.”

James is involved with RHET as a host farmer, but he is also involved at committee level and he helps raise funds to keep the service going.

He continues: “It is really important that people realise why we are raising funds through the Gala Ball. We have a huge amount of volunteers that give their time willingly to help RHET, but they also need continual funds to help them do their job. The funds are important so that they can carry out the risk assessments for host farms, funds are needed to help them complete paperwork. Funds are especially needed to pay for transport for kids to get from schools to the farms.

“There are many host farmers involved with RHET, but there is always a need for more to get involved. There are far more kids that would love to visit a farm than there are farmers that can take them.

“RHET has been a great success, and it can grow with the continued help and support of its dedicated volunteers, and with the help of the funds that will be raised at the Gala Dinner, I hope to see the service run for another 20 years.”

James Logan, RHET host farmer, committee member

The Gala Dinner will take place in the Lowland Hall, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, on Friday, February 21, and tickets are on sale now from www.jumblebee.co.uk/RHETGALA21 for more information visit www.rhet.org.uk/blog/posts/celebrating-our-21st-birthday-on-21-february-2020/ or email rhetgala@rhass.org.uk