High-fly­ing Mull stu­dent wins top ed­u­ca­tion award

The Oban Times - - Districts -

A HIGH-FLY­ING stu­dent from Mull has been named Scot­land’s win­ner at a pres­ti­gious na­tional ed­u­ca­tion award just months af­ter be­ing named Agri­cul­tural Stu­dent of the Year.

Mull farmer Claire Si­mon­etta was among the Bri­tish Ed­u­ca­tion Awards (BEA) fi­nal­ists, their fam­i­lies, teach­ers and sup­port­ers from Scot­land, Eng­land, North­ern Ire­land and Wales who trav­elled to at­tend the spe­cial oc­ca­sion to hon­our their in­di­vid­ual aca­demic and ex­tra- cur­ric­u­lar achieve­ments in a cel­e­bra­tion of Bri­tish ed­u­ca­tion.

The in­au­gu­ral BEA event took place at the Grand Con­naught Rooms, Covent Gar­den, at the end of Jan­uary and was hosted by BBC news pre­sen­ter So­phie Long.

The 25-year- old stu­dent is cur­rently in her fourth and fi­nal year of a BSc (Hons) de­gree in agri­cul­ture at SRUC’s Ayr cam­pus, while help­ing run a beef and sheep hill farm on Mull with her part­ner.

Com­ment­ing on Ms Si­mon­etta’s tri­umph at the awards, the BEA judg­ing panel said: ‘ The mar­gins were tight but Claire im­pressed the judges with her ex­ten­sive list of achieve­ments and the lead role she is tak­ing within an al­ready chal­leng­ing in­dus­try, but par­tic­u­larly as a fe­male and the ad­di­tional tri­als this may bring. Al­ready she is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence – be­ing sought out to ed­u­cate both those within the in­dus­try and within the wider com­mu­nity on agri­cul­tural prac­tices and ac­tiv­i­ties. In this po­si­tion she is al­ready in­flu­enc­ing the fu­ture di­rec­tion of agri­cul­ture, not only in Scot­land but po­ten­tially glob­ally, and mark­ing out a vi­tally im­por­tant role for women as she does so.

‘The ac­tive and sup­port­ive role she takes within her com­mu­nity and the over­all wider sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to the in­dus­try she dis­plays is also ad­mirable.

‘Her com­mit­ment has sur­passed academia and Claire is an ex­am­ple of the power of ed­u­ca­tion and the op­por­tu­ni­ties it can bring to not only have a sat­is­fy­ing and fruit­ful ca­reer as an in­di­vid­ual, but to drive change and make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in our world.’

Dr Jan Con­nell, se­nior tu­tor and pro­gramme leader for agri­cul­ture at SRUC Ayr, said: ‘This is an­other fan­tas­tic achieve­ment for Claire and so de­serv­ing.

‘Claire ex­cels in ev­ery­thing she puts her mind to and we are for­tu­nate she is a stu­dent with us at Ayr. We have thor­oughly en­joyed hav­ing Claire as a stu­dent. It is re­ward­ing when we see the hard work of stu­dents and teach­ing staff be­ing recog­nised in this way.’

Claire with her award.

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