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RHASS Case Study: Kerry Annal – Young Livestock Ambassador 2018

RHASS caught up with Kerry Annal, winner of the prestigious Young Livestock Ambassador Award for 2018, presented at this year’s Royal Highland Show.

Kerry Annal, Young Livestock Ambassador

Kerry is the very deserving winner of the prestigious Young Livestock Ambassador Award for 2018, presented at this year’s Royal Highland Show. The Award, run by RHASS, Quality Meat Scotland and SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), is given to an individual who has shown an exceptional enthusiasm for the livestock industry and saw Kerry gain a lifetime membership to RHASS, which includes free entry to the Royal Highland Show.

Hailing from Orkney, Kerry is happy she’s finally being recognised as a farmer, as opposed to a farmer’s daughter or a farmer’s wife. “You don’t hear men being referred to as farmer’s husbands or farmer’s sons,” she says.

Who doesn’t love coming to the Royal Highland Show? Kerry is no exception, but because of commitments over the past few years hasn’t been able to make the journey to Edinburgh. However, she attended this year and what better way to make her return than as the winner of a major award?

We caught up with Kerry to get her thoughts on her win and her future in the industry.

Can you give a brief summary of what led you to be interested in livestock?

“I grew up on a beef farm in Orkney and every opportunity I got I would go out to the farm with my Dad. I learnt a lot working with him and still learn a lot from him now.

After I finished school I moved “sooth” to study Mental Health and Counselling in Dundee for four years, but I really missed being away from Orkney and the farm. While away at university I was lucky to get a job working as a lambing assistant for a lovely family in Aberdeenshire, I did this for three springs.

When I returned to Orkney to live I decided to have my own wee flock of sheep. I then met my husband Alex when working on a neighbouring beef farm during my summer holidays. So now, I split my time as best as possible between my parents’ and Alex’s beef farms.”

What did you do at 2018 Royal Highland Show and how involved have you been in previous years?

“I love coming down to the Royal Highland Show, and it had been a few years since we’d last made it down. This year I was on the Farmers Journal Scotland stand on the Thursday as I have been lucky enough to have started writing for them on a fairly regular basis this year. I met a lot of new folk, and it was a great opportunity to put faces to names.

The Friday was the day of the interview and award presentation for the Young Livestock Ambassador Award, and it all went by so quickly. We had to head back up to Orkney straight after the award presentation as we had a community event on the next day, but I am really looking forward to next year.”

How do you think you came to win the Young Livestock Ambassador award – what set you apart from others?
“I’m really not sure; you would have to ask the judges! Both Sam and Gemma are fantastic and doing a huge amount for the industry, so I was definitely up against stiff competition.”

You were one of three, all-female finalists for the award – what are your thoughts on diversity in the agricultural industry? Do you see change happening?

“Obviously farming continues to be a male-dominated industry, but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t there. Women have traditionally been, and continue to be, very much involved in the industry, and it’s about making sure they, or we, are recognised for the work we are doing.

I have always felt incredibly well supported to work in the industry and have a lot of admiration for the men and women working in agriculture. Of course, there have been occasions where I haven’t been taken as seriously or recognised as a farmer because I am a woman. But the support and encouragement I’ve had far outweighs this.

What I sometimes struggle with is when I’m not recognised as a farmer under my own merit. Although I am a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, it’s nice to be referred to as a farmer in my own right, because I am.

In terms of change, it will take generations, but I want folk to feel supported into the industry. We can all make valuable contributions to agriculture, regardless of being a man or a woman.”

What does it mean to you to win?

“It means a huge amount. I feel so honoured to have been recognised as an ambassador for an industry that I am so proud to be involved in. I found the whole experience to be emotional and overwhelming, the support I received was amazing, and it has without any doubt been life-changing for me.”

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“I hope that I am still working in the livestock sector and my enthusiasm hasn’t become too jaded! As well as working on the farms I want to work hard to promote the industry and bridge the gap between the farmer and consumer.”

What do you think RHASS means to the support of Scottish agriculture?

“RHASS does a huge amount to support Scottish agriculture, and I am honoured to be a member. They do a fantastic job of promoting our industry, products, produce and highlighting to the wider public what the agriculture industry is doing.”

RHASS is proud to support agriculture in Scotland, and people like Kerry demonstrate the importance and worth of the work it does. She is a fantastic example of a strong, resilient young farmer carving out a career in the sector. Well done Kerry on a tremendous achievement, well deserved!

If you want to know more about how to get involved with RHASS and how we can help you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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