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BGAJ John Deere Training Award

Enquiries?
Steve Mitchell
01926 818762
Steve Mitchell

Perpetual trophy and £250 prize (plus £100 to the runner-up) for the best article written during the Guild's new entrants training course on agricultural and horticultural journalism.

Doug Walker

Doug WalkerA keen supporter of the Guild, Doug Walker, the longest serving managing director of John Deere Limited (from 1968 to 1993), died in November 2015 at the age of 87. A full obituary can be found on the John Deere website here, but what this omits is the role Doug played in the birth of the Guild's John Deere Journalism Training Award in 1991, which replaced the previous travel scholarship sponsored by the company from 1973.

"It was Doug who approved the change of format when it was first proposed," says award organiser Steve Mitchell of ASM Public Relations. "He firmly believed in the importance of training and mentoring young people, and gave the course every encouragement until his retirement in 1993 - I think it's safe to say the course would not exist without his initial support."

The scheme has been hugely successful in helping young people with an aptitude for writing to get a foothold in agricultural journalism and PR.

For a first-hand account of what the course is like, written by 2016 course student Jacki de Carles, click here.

Our roll of honour, accessible below is also testimony to the success of this course:

The BGAJ / John Deere Training Award Roll of Honour

BGAJ John Deere Training Award lecture Sponsored by John Deere, and held at the company's UK headquarters in Nottinghamshire, the course supports one of the Guild’s principal aims – promoting schemes for the provision of suitable entrants into agricultural and horticultural journalism.

Since it began, more than 30 course members not already employed as journalists have been taken on by national farming and horticultural magazines.

The 10 trainees who take part come from different backgrounds – horticulture, agriculture, PR or agri-media and agricultural engineering – and often have very little or no practical experience of journalism.

They attend lectures and practical exercises formulated by professional training consultant David Mascord, and guest lectures given by Guild members. Short-term placements offered by a number of farming and horticultural publications and PR agencies then provide real-world experience of the job.

Students also compete for the John Deere Trophy and a £250 cash prize for the best article written during the course - plus a £100 prize for the runner-up - and a guest ticket to the Guild's annual Harvest Service & Lunch in London for the prize presentation.

For further details of the training course, contact Steve Mitchell, ASM PR on Tel: 01962 818762 Mobile: 07717 213182 Email: steve@asmpr.co.uk

Course Applications Deadline: April 29, 2016

Download a 2016 poster

Download a PDF application form

Download a Word application form

Winners

2016

BGAJ John Deere Training Award - Andrew MeredithThis year's winner of the John Deere Training Award - Andrew Meredith - not only earned himself a cheque and a trophy presented by Guild chairman Ben Briggs at the Guild's Harvest Lunch but also a job at Farmers Weekly!

Before his career-changing experience on the Guild's new entrants training scheme, Andrew worked on the family beef and sheep farm in Powys and spent one day a week working as a drover at Welshpool livestock market.

But his talent for writing was spotted by editors at Farmers Weekly, where Andrew spent his three days' work experience as part of the course. After successfully writing a couple of columns for the Farmlife section, he was offered a full-time reporting role on the arable desk.

For the award, students on the annual course were asked to write a news story on Open Farm Sunday. The entries were judged by course lecturer David Mascord, Guild Awards Secretary, Louise Impey and Annabel Shackleton of LEAF/Open Farm Sunday.

"The judges all agreed that the clear winner was Andrew Meredith's article, which was the best news story. It met the brief, read very well, contained the relevant facts and figures and had a strong message," said Steve Mitchell, course organiser. "It was a really good effort and since the winning and runner-up articles will be used to help promote the hugely successful Open Farm Sunday event, particularly to new or prospective host farmers in 2017, they will have value beyond the Guild course and this award."

Joint runners-up were zoology graduate Nicole Coombs, whose work experience placement was at Farmers Guardian and Richard Bradley, who started working at the weekly newspaper as machinery and technology reporter shortly after the course.

BGAJ John Deere Training Award - Nicole Coomb-Andrew Meredith-Richard Bradley

 

2015

Twenty-four year old farmer’s daughter Melanie Jenkins from Monmouthshire was the 2015 winner, with the runner-up being agronomist Sam Deane, also 24, from Co Cork in Ireland.

BGAJ John Deere Training Award 2015 2 

Melanie gained a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading, where she introduced an agricultural column to the university newspaper. She completed two spells of work experience at Farmers Weekly in 2014 and in 2015 began working for the Devon-based agricultural media service, Agri-hub.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and met some really great people; it has been such a good experience to have so early in my career,” says Melanie. “I will certainly be recommending it to anyone who says they are interested in this field.”

BGAJ John Deere award winning story 2015Melanie won the award for her article ‘Dairy leaders to hold fresh talks with Morrisons’, which was published by Farmers Weekly. Sam Deane’s article ‘OSR emerges into a blitz of disease’ was written for his work experience host magazine CPM. Sam has since joined leading specialist arable merchant Premium Crops Ltd in Hampshire.

The 2015 entries were judged by specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord and freelance Louise Impey, the Guild’s Awards Secretary. Melanie received her winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch in London, where Sam was presented with his framed certificate and a cheque for £100.

This year's work experience hosts were Agri-hub, CPM, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Guide, Farmers Weekly, LEAF, pitchcare, Ware Anthony Rust and the Western Morning News. Other course participants included Guild members Laura Bowyer and Alice Singleton of Farmers Guardian, freelance Tracy Wathen-Jones, and Rosie Hopkins and Sophie Wilesmith of Pinstone Communications.

Click here to read the winning news stories.

 

2014

Twenty-seven year old James Marshall from Somerset was judged 2014 winner of the annual British Guild of Agricultural Journalists Training Award, sponsored by John Deere Limited.

James Marshall + Angus Chalmers

James (pictured left receiving his award from Guild member Angus Chalmers) grew up in rural Somerset and has been writing freelance articles on farming for various regional newspapers and magazines in his spare time, while working for an academic book publisher. Since winning the award, he changed career and in late November 2014 started a new job with Devon-based specialist food and agriculture PR agency Reverberate, run by Phil Gibson, a Member of the Guild.

“Before applying for the course I had been looking to move away from my marketing based job in the publishing industry and gain employment within the agricultural PR sector,” says James. “I believe that attending the training course and winning the award played a significant part in securing the job offer from Reverberate PR; I'm very grateful to the Guild and to John Deere for giving me the opportunity.”

James won the 'best student' prize for an article on the government’s approach to the threat posed by African swine fever, which was published by Farmers Weekly Interactive. He received his winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy at the offices of PR agency, RDP Advertising & Marketing, where James spent the work placement element of the course, under the watchful eye of Angus Chalmers, another Member of the Guild.

Jane Craigie + Fiona TurnbullThe 2014 runner-up was Fiona Turnbull, a sheep farmer and part-time farming columnist from Kinross in Scotland. She won her place on the training course thanks to a bursary awarded by the Guild and Quality Meat Scotland that enabled Fiona to also attend IFAJ Congress 2014.

Fiona (right in picture) received her £100 prize and certificate from Guild chairman Jane Craigie, and her article, advising on how lamb producers can earn better returns from their flock, was published by her work experience host, The Courier newspaper in Dundee.

The course article entries were judged by specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord, and freelance Louise Impey, the Guild’s Awards Secretary.

The 2014 course took place as usual at UK headquarters of John Deere Limited and students had work experience opportunities generously provided by BBC Gardeners’ World, the NFU's British Farmer & Grower, The Courier, DairyCo, Farmers Guardian, Garden Answers, Horticulture Week, RDP Advertising & Marketing, South East Farmer and Western Daily Press.

Read the winning and runner-up news stories here.

BGAJ John Deere 2014 - group

2013

BGAJ JD Award 2013

Anna BowenRoyal Agricultural University student Anna Bowen (21) from Carmarthen won the 2013 British Guild of Agricultural Journalists Training Award, sponsored by John Deere.

The dairy farmer’s daughter won for an article about new Defra measures to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis in England and took part in the Guild's training course while studying for a BSc in international equine and agricultural management.

Anna is a regular student contributor to the monthly West Midlands newspaper Three Counties Farmer, has written articles for Andrea BeddowsEndurance and Local Rider magazines, spent a week each on work experience at the Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard, Carmarthen Journal, and Horse and Hound, and is an active blogger.

Specialist training consultant and main course lecturer, David Mascord, judged Anna’s article to be the best news story of those submitted by the 10 prospective new entrants to agricultural journalism, 'tackling a very topical subject with a clear and concise writing style and a good use of quotes'.

Runner up was Andrea Beddows, a Member of the Guild and part-time public relations manager and freelance copywriter from Knipton, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. She has a BSc degree in rural land management from the Royal Agricultural College.

Andrea spent her work experience placement at the NFU’s British Farmer & Grower and wrote her article on a major new trade deal for the export of beef and lamb to Russia.

Anna received a cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy at Cirencester, while Andrea was presented with her runner-up framed certificate and a cheque for £100 at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch at Stationers’ Hall in London. Read the winning articles here.

The 2013 course took place at John Deere UK headquarters in July and the work experience hosts were Amateur Gardening, BBC Gardeners' World, British Farmer & Grower, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly, 5M Publishing, The Garden, Horticulture Week, Three Counties Farmer and the Whisper.pr agency.

2012

BGAJ / JD Training Course students 2012

Above: Students on the 2012 course had lectures and practical exercises at John Deere's base in Nottinghamshire before heading out to various publications for practical work experience (left to right): Dominic Kirby, Adrian Hayler (BGAJ Friend), David Acock, Pippa Harper, Becky Hand, Jez Fredenburgh, Eamon Rendall, David Boyd, Louise Hartley, Rebecca VealeAmy Robinson, Emily White, Sophie Cawley.

Agriculture student Louise Hartley (20) from Clitheroe in Lancashire won the training scheme award in 2012 with an article featured on the Farmers Guardian website about the dairy prices crisis that hit the industry that year.

Louise’s article generated a lot of debate among readers, says FG news editor Ben Briggs: “Louise showed great journalistic nous to inform me about this story and it really added to FG's coverage of the unfolding saga,” he says.

Guild council member and the Press & Journal’s agriculture editor Joe Watson, who judged the entries with specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord, concluded it was “an excellent read” as well as being “to the point, straight talking and tight”, and containing good quotes.

Louise HartleyBoth judges agreed that the winning and runner-up stories were stand-out entries. RAC graduate Dominic Kirby from Northamptonshire penned the second-placed news story on the threat to the British pig industry posed by spiralling costs of production.

This piece, which Joe Watson describes as “a well written and informative story that explained what the problems are and had good quotes in it”, was published in Farmers Weekly, where Dominic spent the work experience placement part of the course, following lectures and practical exercises at John Deere’s base in Nottinghamshire.

Dominic has also contributed to Three Counties Farmer, written a blog for the FWi website and completed further work experience at The Field, The Garden and The Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard.

Louise, who received her winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy from John Deere marketing manager Gordon Day at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch, spent most of the summer on work experience with Farmers Guardian and has written articles for Cow Management magazine.

Ben Briggs says: “She has an excellent writing style and an ear for great quotes, which are two of the main attributes I look for in journalists, be they starting out in the industry or more established.

“Just as important are her tenacity in seeking out news and her willingness to deal with people at any level in the industry, be they union leaders, politicians or grassroots farmers. Louise’s winning article showed her strengths as a reporter – precisely the ones we valued during her time here at FG.”

Ten students joined the course, with practical work experience provided by Amateur Gardening, British Farmer & Grower, The Dundee Courier, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly, Farming Life, 5M Publishing, The Garden and Horticulture Week.

Louise commented after her placement: “The course has been invaluable, not only in providing technical skills, but also in meeting other young people from across the country who are in interested in the same career as myself.”

Read the award-winning articles here

BGAJ Award winners + Gordon Day

Training scheme award winner Louise Hartley and runner-up Dominic Kirby received their prizes from Gordon Day, marketing manager at John Deere Ltd.

2011

The 2011 Guild training scheme winner was 18-year old Matthew Sharp from Northumberland, pictured below with runner-up Barbara Tremain and Peter Leech of John Deere.

Although Matthew was not employed in journalism at the time of the course he was an experienced writer, having been blogging for Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian since the age of 14. He helped set up The Young Northumbrian, a YFC county newsletter and annual magazine that he now edits, and is social networking co-ordinator for the Farming Online website, to which he contributes a column on his life at Newcastle University studying for an agriculture degree.

Matthew spent his work experience placement with Farmers Weekly, working at the Dairy Event & Livestock Show to research a prize-winning article on alternative sources of winter bedding published in the livestock section of the magazine.

GAJ-John Deere 2011

The runner-up prize winner, Barbara Tremain, is a 51-year old horticulturalist from Cornwall. In 2011 she completed a BSc Hons Horticulture (top-up) course at Rosewarne Horticultural College in the county.

Barbara has had some experience with freelance journalism, writing about eco lifestyles and subjects since 2004; she has contributed to Cornwall Today, South West Connection and similar publications, and had a feature published during her course work placement with Amateur Gardening.

Read the two top articles here.

Peter Leech, John Deere’s European regional training manager and 2011 president of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE), presented the awards at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch in London.

GAJ-JD Training 2011The judges were specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord, and the Press & Journal agriculture editor Joe Watson.

Both commented that the overall standard of entries was higher this year than it has been for some time: “A very competitive contest this year – and a far higher standard of entry,” said Joe. “The winner and runner-up articles were well written, well formulated and informative – captivating too.

“The spice garden entry certainly got my instant attention and drew me into it,” Joe added. “The overall winner brought a fresh view to a subject long written about in the farming media, but in an article that injected some new ideas and views into the debate on the use of alternative cow cubicle bedding materials.”

Work experience hosts this year were Amateur Gardening, Farm Contractor & Large Scale Farmer, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly, 5M Publishing, The Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Horticulture Week.

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“Thank you for all the training, it really has been a fantastic learning opportunity and I have loved the experience. I now look forward to putting it to further good use.” – student.

Below: 2011 course members (left to right): Sarah Lewis, Jim Cable, Harriet Day (observer), Katie Benallick, Matthew Sharp, Calum Main, Helen Cork, Sue Oakey, Tom Laight, Barbara Tremain, Rhian Price.

GAJ-JD Training 2011 2

2010

Eight prospective young agricultural and horticultural journalists took part in the Guild’s new-entrants training course, gaining a unique insight into the trade and valuable experience that could influence their future careers.

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"Thank you again for organising the course, it was very, very good and has already proved very beneficial in job interviews.” – student

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John Deere 2010 studentsGiven the horticultural interest of several students, the Guild is indebted to Amateur Gardening, The Garden, Horticulture Week and pitchcare for giving students work experience opportunities, as well as The Farmers Club Journal, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly Group and the RASE.

The students also competed for the 18th John Deere Training Award by writing a news story on a topic of their choice. Entries were judged by the principal course lecturer David Mascord and former Guild chairman Joe Watson.

John Deere 2010 CaldeckWinner Janie Caldbeck (37) received a cheque for £250, a framed certificate and trophy from Amateur Gardening news editor Kris Collins for an article about the new generation of green manure crops being developed for farmers. They may bring benefits for gardeners who grow vegetables organically.

“It was the unanimous choice of the judges,” says Steve. “They thought the article was well executed and a good, original idea for a story.”

Janie Caldbeck gained a distinction in the FDSC Horticulture course she completed this summer at Duchy College, Cornwall. She is now doing a top-up year there for a BSc in Horticulture, specialising in global plant use. She also has an MA in Creative Writing and a BA (Hons) in English Literature, both from Leeds University.

During her work experience placement with Amateur Gardening she wrote two articles that short-listed her for New Garden Media Talent of the Year in the Garden Media Guild’s 2010 awards.

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“I have gained so much from the course and the work experience has been invaluable.” – student

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John Deere 2010 Duff + CaldeckJohn Deere Training Award runner-up Robert Duff (28) recently completed a foundation degree in Agricultural Management at Easton College, Norwich, having completed an NDA. He is working part-time at a dairy farm milking 100 Holstein-Friesian cows. He spent his work experience placement with Farmers Weekly and is looking for full-time work as an agricultural journalist.

The awards were presented during the Garden Media Guild’s awards lunch in London.

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“I think it is a great opportunity to offer people, and the course was packed with useful information.” – student

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Read Janie and Robert's articles here.

2009

Journalism student Janine Heath, aged 22, won the Guild's annual Training Award, sponsored by John Deere, for an article on a Staffordshire farmer and Limousin breeder written during her work experience placement as part of the new entrants training scheme. It was the unanimous choice of the judges.

Janine (pictured left above) completed an MA in Broadcast Journalism at Staffordshire University before attending the Guild’s week-long course and spent her work experience placement with Guild member Ian Damms and his Northants-based video company Breeze & Freeze.

After the course, she was appointed to a new position as a video journalist at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire.

The winner's £250 cheque, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy were presented by Guild president Margaret, Countess of Mar at the Royal Show awards presentation evening.

The runner-up framed certificate and a cheque for £50 went to Joanne Gourlay, a probationary member of the Garden Media Guild. She spent her work experience placement with The Garden, the magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Other student hosts in 2009 were Farm Contractor / Amenity Machinery & Equipment, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly Group, Horticulture Week, the Mistral PR group and the website/magazine title Pitchcare.

Read Janine's winning article here

2008

Two farm machinery enthusiasts, James Cullimore and Chris Lockwood, secured the 'top student' awards presented following the Guild’s new-entrant training scheme, sponsored by John Deere.

James Cullimore, aged 24, won the overall award - the John Deere plough trophy, £250 and a commemorative framed certificate - for an article on the set subject of biodiesel. He received the award from Guild chairman Joe Watson.

Having gained a degree in Agricultural Business Management at the University of Reading, James is currently working for the family-owned open farm and agricultural equipment business in Gloucestershire.

Before attending the Guild’s popular training course, James had some work experience with Farmers Weekly's machinery desk and freelance machinery journalist (and Guild website editor) Peter Hill. He spent his three days' work experience on the course with Guild member Rory Day, editor of Classic Tractor magazine.

Chris Lockwood recently completed a National Diploma in Agriculture course at Otley College, Ipswich and spent his work experience with Farmers Weekly.

He is a regular contributor of sales reports and photographs to Classic Tractor and his first book, Know Your Tractors, has been published by Guild member Roger Smith of Ipswich-based Old Pond Publishing.

He received a runner's-up framed certificate and a cheque for £50.

Articles submitted for the award were judged by David Mascord, the specialist training consultant and main course lecturer; Mail on Sunday gardening editor (and past course member) Martyn Cox; and Joe Watson, Guild chairman and agriculture editor at the Press & Journal.

This year's work experience hosts for the 10 course members were Amateur Gardening, Classic Tractor, Farm Business /Farm Life, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly Group, The Garden, Peter Hill Editorial Services, Horticulture Week, The Scottish Farmer and Tractor & Farm Trader / Tractor & Machinery.

Since the training scheme was introduced in 1991, 17 students have found employment as journalists on national farming and horticultural magazines and a number of newly-employed people have benefited from the course.

2007

Charlotte Johnston, a 20-years old Harper Adams University College student, won the 2007 award for the best student report, with William Wilson (also 20) getting the runner-up prize. They had to write a story on the aims and successes of the Guild’s young journalist training course; neither of the winning students had any practical experience of journalism before attending the course.

Guild chairman Joe Watson presented Charlotte with her winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere 'plough' trophy at the Royal Show awards presentation evening. William received a framed certificate and a cheque for £50.

Joe commented: "Both the winning entries stood out for me, in that they engaged me to the end. I favoured Charlotte’s piece on the basis that there was a degree of innovation, with an interesting use of the introductory quote."

Fellow judge and course lecturer Charles Abel added: "Both articles had good, punchy starts and included well worked ideas."

Charlotte, who comes from Cumbria, was on a placement year during her Harper Adams course in rural enterprise and land management, working as a trainee assistant land agent for Warwickshire County Council. She spent her three days' work experience for the training course with Farmers Guardian.

William Wilson, whose family farms near Ipswich, Suffolk, had just completed his first year studying food marketing and business economics at the University of Reading. He completed his Guild course work experience with Mistral Group in the Royal Show press office.

There have been more than 500 applications for places on the 15 courses held so far, which are based on two days of lectures by experienced trainers, journalists and PR professionals, followed by three or more days of practical work experience with a range of farming and horticultural journals and communications businesses.

The 2007 work experience hosts to the 11 course members were Amateur Gardening, The British Grassland Society, Farm Business / Farm Life, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly Group, The Garden, Horticulture Week, Mistral Group, Pitchcare and The Scottish Farmer.

The award is designed to support the Guild in one of its principal aims - promoting schemes for the provision of suitable entrants into agricultural and horticultural journalism. Since it began, 17 course members have found employment as journalists on national farming and horticultural magazines and several people newly employed in the industry have taken advantage of what the course has to offer.

Read Charlotte's report here

Read William's report here

 

2006

Horticulture was to the fore on this year's Guild / John Deere training course as both award-winning trainees - neither of whom had prior experience of journalism - work in this sector. Both chose the same set subject for their entries - a news story on the effect of drought on the horticultural industry in southern England.

Sally Charrett, previously a full-time gardener at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, was judged the winner. She received £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy and had the further accolade of winning The Garden magazine’s annual journalism traineeship following her three days’ course placement with the Royal Horticultural Society publication.

Miranda Kimberley, who had just finished her second year studying for a Diploma at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, won the runner-up prize of a framed certificate and a cheque for £50. She spent three days with Horticulture Week and had a two-page feature published on the use of greenhouse style lighting rigs to promote grass growth at top sports grounds.

In addition to chief course lecturer David Mascord, talks were given by freelance horticulture writer Martyn Cox, Press & Journal farming correspondent Joe Watson, Farmers Weekly editor Jane King and Amy Jackson, head of communications at the Milk Development Council.

Work experience hosts were Farm Business / Farm Life, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly / Poultry World, The Garden, Grow Your Own, Horticulture Week, Mistral Group and The Scottish Farmer.

Sally Charrett receives the John Deere trophy from Guild president Baroness Hazel Byford and Steve Mitchell of ASM PR, representing the sponsor. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

Runner-up for the Guild / John Deere training scheme award was Miranda Kimberley. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

2005

Steve Mitchell of ASM PR (left) presents Jonathan Sandall with the John Deere/GAJ training scheme award. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

James Andrews with his Special Commendation award from the John Deere/GAJ training scheme. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

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