HIS Majesty The King officially opened The MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre at Dumfries House earlier this month.

Run by The Prince’s Foundation, the new multi-million-pound training base in East Ayrshire will bring new talent into the farming and rural sector by providing training opportunities, often for those with no current connection to the industry. It will also offer upskilling for those already working in the sector and will bring current practitioners from across the UK together to share their skills and knowledge.

During the event, His Majesty toured the state-of-the-art facilities while hearing about how the Centre for Excellence will provide invaluable hands-on experience for students looking to get their start in the industry. The King met with students, staff and local farmers before observing workshops on the importance of good soil health for the environment, nutrition in animal feed, and sheep and cattle handling.

Featuring two indoor teaching spaces including facilities for laboratory work and a working barn, the facility will enable students to engage in practical real-life scenarios and animal handling during day visits and residential courses. The centre will enable The Prince’s Foundation to host events and hands-on workshops for more than 1,800 participants a year, including adults looking for new careers, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs, and secondary school pupils. The courses will be complemented by an online offering to ensure a diverse range of participants from all over the UK are inspired to consider rural careers, and are provided with pathways to higher-level qualifications and specialisms.

The centre has been funded by The MacRobert Trust, a grant-making charity based in Aberdeenshire which is inspired by the vision of its benefactor Lady MacRobert who believed that young people can achieve great things, no matter their backgrounds.

Farming and rural skills manager for The Prince’s Foundation, Iona Murray, said: “If you don’t come from an agricultural background, it can be incredibly difficult to break into the industry. We want to make sure that opportunities are there for anyone who aspires to pursue a land-based career, regardless of their background, and The MacRobert Farming Rural Skills Centre will enable us to do just that while also helping to fill a skills gap.

“The Prince’s Foundation has, for many years, offered a comprehensive range of food, farming and horticulture education programmes here at Dumfries House. Now, students could in essence start on one of our introductory courses at the age of four and continue training with us right through to adulthood.”

CEO of The MacRobert Trust, Chris Hockley CBE, said: “The MacRobert Trust is delighted to have been able to work with The Prince’s Foundation on this project. We hope that the new centre will inspire and enable people to learn and then use the skills that the sector truly needs.”