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Agri course helps women find their voice

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By Fiona Reid
Agri course helps women find their voice

WOMEN with agricultural links from across the region are being encouraged to sign up to a development programme.

Be Your Best Self is funded by the Scottish Government and aims to help women with connections to farming to grow confidence, develop skills and build new networks in order to develop or advance their careers.

The first female graduates have been sharing their experiences in a bid to inspire others from Dumfries and Galloway to get involved with an upcoming course.

One of those is Aileen Marchant, pictured above, who now lives at Clonhie Farm, near Penpont, with her husband Andrew, but grew up in Stranraer and Dumfries.

She said: “I don’t come from a farming background. My husband took over our farm ten years ago and I have worked as a teacher for children with additional support needs.

“I have always been very passionate about presenting the agricultural sector as a career choice for young people. But on our farm, I used to hide behind my husband a lot. I felt I didn’t know enough to have an opinion; that people expected me to just be the quiet admin help in the background.”

It was Andrew who suggested she apply for Be Your Best Self but the mum-of-two was ‘really nervous’ and didn’t initially think it was for her.

Eventually she was persuaded to sign up with best friend Emma – and now she’s glad she did, saying: “I could list all the topics we have covered, but I still struggle to put into words what a difference it has made to me as a person and how much my perception of myself and my abilities has changed.

“The course really challenges your preconceptions about yourself and your role. I understand my reaction and approach to issues so much better now as well. It enables you to believe in yourself and your skillset. It’s certainly enabled me to embrace opportunities now, I was always too scared to before.”

She added: “I went into the course believing that farming was a male dominated world and that I didn’t fit, but now I know it isn’t so very male dominated and I do fit. There are lots of impressive strong women all around me in this industry.”

Aileen, 42, is also involved with some of her fellow participants in setting up a Women in Agricultural social and support group.

Furthermore, she has incorporated elements of the course, such as building resilience and confidence, into her teaching job and in her interactions with her own young daughter, Anna.

In a message to other women locally, she said: “I would tell anyone who is unsure to definitely do the course!

“This course will help you to widen your perception. You will become a stronger, more resilient and more confident version of yourself.”

* To apply for future courses, email [email protected].

Annan and Eskdale, Front

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