Rising star apprentice Niall Provan was the success story from last week’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills), picking up a number of top accolades during the special virtual ceremony.

Lantra Scotland’s annual awards evening celebrates the achievements of the country’s top land-based and aquaculture trainees, many of whom have continued to navigate new ways of working over the last year despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith hosted the online event, alongside Lantra Scotland Director, Liz Barron-Majerik. The awards were officially opened by Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, who praised the nominees for continuing to develop their skills and for helping to drive forward their rural communities, making them sustainable places to live, work and thrive.

As well as prizes for overall winner, runner-up and Modern Apprentice of the Year, there was the Anna Murray Award for Partnership Working, awards for Higher Education, School Pupil and Secondary Schools, CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies), Jean’s Jam for inspirational tutor and the Tam Tod Trophy for outstanding young learner.

Niall Provan was announced the winner for the ALBAS but his success didn’t stop there, he went on to win the Environmental Conservation industry award, the Modern Apprenticeship Award and the Tam Tod Trophy – awarded to an outstanding young learner, created in memory of the late Tam Tod.


The 21-year-old from Tillicoultry has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Rural Skills at the Callander Youth Project Trust, through SRUC Oatridge.

“My interest in environmental conservation started from a young age,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in exploring the countryside, climbing hills, and knowing how landscapes formed. I took the first steps towards working in the industry by studying Countryside Management at SRUC. After achieving my NC and HNC, I was able to find my way into the apprenticeship with the Callander Landscape Partnership, which has been an amazing first role in the industry.”

The Scottish Farmer:

ALBAS Overall Runner-up Callum Duggan

The ALBAS runner-up was awarded to 25-year-old Callum Duggan, from Kilmun in Argyll and Bute. He also picked up the Aquaculture industry award and a prestigious CARAS award. He has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship at Level 7 in Aquaculture at Cooke Aquaculture, through the NAFC Marine Centre.

He commented: “I was surprised and grateful to be nominated for an ALBAS. I’m relishing my current role helping run the site, as I’ve always been interested in fish management. I really enjoy my role and take satisfaction from the site running smoothly, with progress and improvements being made.”

The Anna Murray Partnership Working Award, which was launched for the first-time last year, was won by the Growing Rural Talent project in the South of Scotland. The organisations involved provide funding and support to address gaps in the accessibility and availability of training in key areas of the rural economy, including forestry, agriculture and horticulture.

The Royal Highland Agricultural Society for Scotland (RHASS) also supports a Secondary Schools Award in recognition of schools with exceptional standards in rural skills training. The winner this year was Meldrum Academy in Aberdeenshire, with Falkirk High School taking the runner-up spot.

Jean’s Jam Award, for an inspiring mentor or trainer, went to Julie McCrorie - a specialist teacher in Rosshall Academy’s visual impairment unit and worked on delivering the NPA in Horticulture with Glasgow Clyde College. The prize was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend Jean Costello.

The Scottish Farmer:

CARAS Award winner Ian Armstrong

The three winners of the prestigious CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) awards which recognise distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries were: Callum Duggan, Ian Armstrong and Lucy Philip.

Agriculture trainee Ian Armstrong also won the SCQF Level 10 Higher Education award. The 22-year-old from Inverurie has been doing a BA (Hons) in Rural Business Management at SRUC Craibstone.

He said: “It was great to be nominated for an ALBAS award. Agriculture can be a tough job, but I enjoy the challenge. Farming gives me the chance to get back what I put in, which motivates me.”

The Scottish Farmer:

CARAS Award winner Lucy Philip

Fellow agriculture trainee Lucy Philip from Bonnyrig won The Higher Education Award at SCQF Level 7–8. Lucy has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Agriculture at Carcant Farm, through Borders College.

Other winners within agriculture included Shauna Murdie from Jedburgh, who won the Agriculture Learner of the Year category, with Amy Lochhead, from North Berwick, taking the runner-up spot.

Shauna has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Agriculture at South Riccalton Farm, through Borders College. She said: “I’m interested in developing my knowledge of the business side of agriculture, and this is something the apprenticeship has delivered. I hope in the future to run a farm and being nominated for an ALBAS has given me the confidence to succeed.”

The Scottish Farmer:

Agriculture Learner of the Year winner Shauna Murdie

In the Land-based Engineering Learner of the Year category, Robbie Gray, from Lanark, took first prize, while the runner-up was Reiss Gordon, from Kirkcaldy.

Liz Barron-Majerik commented on the fantastic entries that had been received for this year’s ALBAS: “This time last year the ALBAS were very different, but I’m delighted we’ve still been able to honour Scotland’s top learners in 2021. It’s been a challenging year for many in our sector, but we’re focusing on the future and recognising the work of some of our key workers and learners.

“The ALBAS are a very effective way of highlighting their success, and of getting employers involved in growing the next generation of talent,” she continued.

“As well as the generous sponsors of our event, I’d also like to thank Keith Paterson and his team of independent judges, who commit an enormous amount of unpaid time to reviewing the nominations and interviewing short-listed candidates.”

ALBAS 2021 winners and runners-up:

ALBAS Overall Winner, Modern Apprentice of the Year, Environmental Conservation Learner of the Year and winner of the Tam Tod Trophy – Niall Provan, Tillicoultry.

ALBAS Overall Runner-up, CARAS Award and Aquaculture Learner of the Year – Callum Duggan, Kilmun.

Agriculture Learner of the Year – Shauna Murdie, Jedburgh; Runner-up – Amy Lochead, North Berwick.

Aquaculture Learner of the Year; Runner-up – Guy Tindall, Burra.

Equine Learner of the Year – Morag Williams, Pathhead; Runner-up – Kimberly Gallacher, Greenock.

Animal Care Winner – Susan Turner, Galashiels.

Horticulture Learner of the Year – Maureen Brown, Galashiels; Runner-up – Natalia Reifart-Bieganowska, Paisley.

Land-based Engineering Learner of the Year – Robbie Gray, Lanark; Runner-up – Reiss Gordon, Kirkcaldy.

Trees and Timber Learner of the Year – Alex Patterson, Blairgowrie; Runner-up – David McMillan, Tomatin.

Higher Education SCQF Level 7-8 Winner and CARAS Award – Lucy Philip, Bonnyrigg.

Higher Education SCQF Level 10 Winner and CARAS Award – Ian Armstrong, Inverurie.

Secondary Schools Award – Meldrum Academy; Runner-up – Falkirk High School.

NPA Skills for Work School Pupil Award – Matthew Houston, Rosshall Academy, Glasgow; Runner-up – Martin Collie-Stewart, Rosshall Academy, Glasgow.

Anna Murray Partnership Working Award – Growing Rural Talent in the South of Scotland.

Jean’s Jam Award – Julie McCrorie, Rosshall Academy, Glasgow.