Applications sought for £160,000 fund to boost rural economy

Border Union Agricultural Society keen to support career development across agriculture, forestry, renewable energy and more

The Border Union Bicentenary Bursary panel
The Border Union Bicentenary Bursary panel

Residents of North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders looking to advance their careers in the rural economy, or start afresh in the sector, are being encouraged to seek support from a major funding scheme launched earlier this year.

The Border Union Bicentenary Bursary Fund was set up to commemorate the 200th birthday of the Border Union Agricultural Society in 2013. It is expected to reach £160,000, after generous support from landed estates, trusts, companies and individuals.

The fund offers financial help to those with drive and ambition across a range of pursuits, including agriculture, forestry, horticulture, country sports, the food sector, conservation, rural crafts, equestrianism, rural leisure, fish farming, the environment and renewable energy.

Particular emphasis will be placed on ensuring support given to successful applicants will ultimately benefit of the rural economy of the area.

The goal reflects the main objective laid down by the founders of the society in 1813 – to encourage improvement.

Lord Joicey, of Ford and Etal Estates, who oversaw the fundraising exercise, said: “This is a great opportunity for Borderers to realise their potential and to take a study trip, a course or other training that will help them in their career or business.

“The generosity of Borders farmers and landowners in creating this fund must be remembered. We look forward to seeing it repaid by the future prosperity of successful candidates across every sector of our Borders economy.”

Originally formed at a public meeting in the Cross Keys Inn, Kelso, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Roxburghe, the society has grown in size and prominence, holding three core events annually – a championship dog show, a two-day annual agricultural show and the world-renowned Cydectin Kelso Ram Sales.

Membership now stands at more than 1,000, made up of people from both rural and urban backgrounds, supported all year round by an office at Springwood Park, Kelso.

All society activities now take place at this site, which is undergoing extensive redevelopment.

Considering the applications for funding will be a panel that will meet quarterly.

Border Union chairman Jonny McCririck said: “This is a home-grown fund for home-grown Borderers. Funding for professional or personal development in the rural sector is often hard to come by.

“We are here to help anyone with an idea or a wish to develop their skill for business – although we will expect them to be realistic and to have done some homework first.”

Details of the terms and criteria for eligibility, as well as deadlines for applicants, are available at www.buas.org .

Alternatively, email ronaldwilson@buas.org or contact the society’s office at Springwood Park, Kelso TD5 8LS.

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