The Prince’s Foundation has underlined its commitment to championing British farming and rural skills by commencing construction of a purpose-built training centre on Dumfries House estate.
HRH The Prince of Wales, President of The Prince’s Foundation and a long-time advocate for sustainable farming, joined representatives of The MacRobert Trust and education staff from the charity as construction on the site began.
Generously funded by The MacRobert Trust, the multi-million-pound dedicated training centre, to be called The MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre, will represent a significant boost to the UK’s rural industry when it opens in Summer 2023. Lying adjacent to the estate’s commercial operation Home Farm, the state-of-the-art facility will enable The Prince’s Foundation to host events and hands-on workshops for around 1800 participants each year, including secondary school pupils, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs, and adult learners looking for new careers as well as farming and rural sector workers looking to upskill.
Featuring two indoor teaching spaces including facilities for laboratory work and a working barn, the facility will provide students with the opportunity to engage in practical real life scenarios in both day visits and residential courses. It 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 MacRobert Trust is a dynamic Scottish charity which supports charitable organisations, funds building works across the country and runs a number of prizes, awards, traineeships and endowments inspired by the vision of Lady MacRobert.
CEO Chris Hockley said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with The Prince’s Foundation on the development of the new Rural Skills Training Centre at Dumfries House. This very important project will enable the Trust to build on the great work it’s already doing to preserve heritage skills, and inspire the next generation to consider rural careers, and support sustainability. Importantly, the development will also benefit those already working or training in the industry by offering upskilling and networking opportunities.”
Iona Murray, farming and rural skills coordinator for The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Thousands of school pupils already engage with The Prince’s Foundation’s farming education programmes every year. Thanks to the support from The MacRobert Trust, the new Rural Skills Centre will enable us to further develop our short term intensive training programmes and expand the opportunities to school leavers, adults looking to pursue new career routes, and those already working in the industry. We have worked closely with those in the sector and other education providers to ensure our offering fills a much needed gap and look forward to building new partnerships with likeminded organisations over the coming years to place the facility at Dumfries House as an accessible rural skills hub and route into the industry”
At its Dumfries House headquarters, The Prince’s Foundation already engages with people of all ages to promote rural careers through a series of annual events, including a Spring Festival of Farming for primary school pupils, Women In Wellies to encourage women to work in rural industries, and Countryside Careers Day for secondary pupils. Valentin’s Education Farm, home to a dozen rare breeds of animal, and the Kauffman Education Garden form the setting for education programmes that benefit thousands of school age learners every year, while training programmes in horticulture including those accredited by the Royal Horticultural Society are on offer to local schools.