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Grant recipients prepare for their rural careers

The Peter Laing Memorial Trust recently announced the recipients of its annual grants, which are aimed at giving a leg up to people who intend to follow a practical career in farming.

At a small ceremony last week, a total of $7000 was awarded to Zoe Bell from Greytown, William Billing from Masterton, Angus Jaspers from Martinborough, Jordan Miles from Eketāhuna, and Ben Simpson from Masterton.

Joint Trust chairs Emily and Anders Crofoot said the five successful applicants exemplify what the grants process is all about.

“What we want to encourage is young Wairarapa people, in particular, who are enthusiastic about beginning their careers in pastoral farming and can use the grants to help them get a start,” Emily Crofoot said.

“That is exactly what these awardees will be doing next year.”

The grants will go towards helping the five recipients who want to undertake practical training through a cadetship or farming programme, and/or to buy specialist equipment, like a saddle or working dogs.

Three of the grant recipients – Jaspers, Miles, and Simpson – are set to start their two-year cadetships at Smedley Station next year and received grants for equipment and fees.

Jaspers told the Times-Age he applied for the trust grant to help get some funding for on-farm equipment such as a horse saddle, bridle, breastplate, saddle bags, saddle blankets, hoof pick, brushes, and a helmet.

“I have always loved farming from a very young age. I was always out on the farm helping Dad and learning what to do,” Jaspers said.

“Over the years, as I got older, I started to work for other people to get different experiences and knowledge.

“Farming has always been an industry where I can see myself thriving in future years, and going to Smedley is a good stepping stone towards this.”

Meanwhile, Bell and Billing have been accepted for the Growing Future Farmers programme – Bell will be training at Surreydale Farm in Pahiatua and Billing at Matariki Terraces in Homewood, Masterton.

Billing said he will be putting his grant towards purchasing a dog or a shearing handpiece.

“Through my time of experiencing farming as a young adult, I have grown to love shearing,” Billing said.

“In January 2024 I am participating in a 24-hour shearathon [Shear4u] with my dad and two other shearers raising money for charities that help the rural community.”

This year marks the 19th year of the Peter Laing Memorial Trust Grant.

As previously reported by the Times-Age, Laing – who was educated at Fernridge Primary School and Wairarapa College – developed a passion for farming at a young age, later moving to Feilding Agricultural High School in 1946, where he took on a new division of the Young Farmers Club.

Laing spent a lot of time working on large Wairarapa stations. In 1952, he moved to Castlepoint and became head shepherd and later manager of Castlepoint Station until he handed in his red bands for retirement.

Laing was also chairman of the Castlepoint School Committee for 24 years, involved in the Castlepoint Racing Club for 50 years, was an integral part of the Castlepoint Golf Club, encouraged the formation of the local rural Fire Brigade, was one of the people behind the establishment of the Castlepoint Pony Club, and served as a warranted officer for the Department of Conservation.

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