A 23-year-old from a family farm in Cumbria has won the coveted title of Farmers Apprentice 2020.
Lucy Dickinson beat off stiff competition from nine other finalists at the week-long bootcamp to take the title, winning £10,000 to spend on agricultural education or developing a farm business.
“It was a fantastic experience,” said Lucy. “The week was very mentally draining, but it was a lot of fun and I learnt so much.
“I’ve come out of it feeling a lot more confident in myself – I feel like I’m now able to do things I never thought I’d be able to do.”
Coming from a livestock farm, Lucy enjoyed the cattle- and sheep-related tasks, but found the arable-related ones – whether that was flying a drone or working out a fungicide programme – most challenging.
“I was definitely on a steep learning curve, but all the contestants worked together and supported each other. We all got on really well and I’ve gained some really good friends out of it,” she said.
Lucy plans to spend some of the prize money on taking her trailer test, and will then buy a weigh crate, weigh system and a big turnover crate for the 150-head sheep enterprise she runs.
She’s also keen to do some farm-related courses and is looking into renting a bit of land with her partner so they can get some cattle of their own.
Having recently started selling meat direct from the farm, she’s also exploring setting up a website and ultimately hopes to run a farmers’ market stall or even open a farm shop.
“I basically just tried my hardest with all the tasks,” said Lucy. “Even if it was an activity that I knew something about, I approached it very much with the attitude that I wanted to learn more. There’s no point in taking part in Farmers Apprentice if you’re not willing to learn.
5 facts about Lucy
- Plans to invest some of her prize money in training and sheep equipment
- From a family livestock farm in the Lake District
- Chairman of Cartmel Young Farmers Club
- Plays second row for Barrow Ladies rugby league club.
- Has a three-year-old son.
“You have to be positive in farming. Sometimes it can feel like a daily battle with the elements – but you have to always look for the rainbow.
“I’d never done anything even remotely like this competition before – and I never thought I would because I’ve always struggled with my self-confidence.
“I did feel nervous driving there – but everyone was so welcoming and all the nerves and fear just disappeared as soon as I arrived. I just went for it – and I’m so happy that I did.
“It’s still not properly sunk in that I’ve won. It was such a shock, but an amazing feeling. My family and friends are really proud. They’re proud that I even went, let alone won it!
“I’ve come out of the whole experience a bit more prepared to take a gamble in life.
“Being a part of the Apprentice was life-changing, but at the same time in many ways life carries on as normal. When I got home, I went straight out and rounded up sheep to treat them for fly-strike!”
The judges on Lucy
Farmers Weekly editorial director, Karl Schneider:
“Throughout bootcamp Lucy was always the first to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in, even when things weren’t going as planned.
“She did particularly well in the livestock-related tasks, but we were also impressed with her performance when she was outside her comfort zone – asking the right questions and always willing to pitch in.
“Lucy is level-headed, hard-working and has a clear vision of where she wants to go. She admitted that she sometimes lacked confidence in herself, but she didn’t let that hold her back. She has a very promising future ahead of her.”
Bootcamp host farmer Robert Neill:
“Lucy isn’t an overly pushy character, but she listens, absorbs information and has a great ability to think through problems.
She is a very likeable, very capable young person who embodies all that’s great about the next generation in farming.”