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 (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.
The 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 Couriernewspaper 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.