The Swales Trust

Cumbria is a county with a rich heritage in farming and food production. There are approximately 5,000 working farms and several thousand hectares of woodland, although less than half are properly managed. Farming and forestry together contribute around 3% towards employment and about the same for gross value added (GVA).

To support people in these industries, the Swales Trust offers grants of up to £1,000 towards the cost of land-based qualifications and the funding can be used to purchase study materials, specialist equipment or towards travel costs. There are no age restrictions on who can apply.

Formerly the Swales Scholarship Fund, the Swales Trust was transferred to the Foundation in March 2015. The trustees, following discussions with both Newton Rigg and Askham Bryan colleges, decided to transfer trusteeship to the Foundation so that the distribution of awards to eligible students could be made as widely as possible. The money was invested with the revenue it generates every year given out in grants.

Carol Douglas, who has been supported in her ambition to get a woodland qualification

Carol Douglas, 48, from Sedbergh in South Lakeland, received £250 towards the cost of a Woodland Ecology Course at the Green Wood Centre near Telford.

Working part-time at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and a parent of two teenage children, Carol was unable to afford all the costs involved in attending courses to further her professional development within the forestry industry. Ineligible for funding for a Foundation Degree in Forestry, she decided short courses were another way to get the skills and experience she needed.

Carol said: “I have gained a breadth of knowledge that will be useful in my workplace. This has given me greater confidence in my role as Woodland Officer at the Millennium Trust. The grant gave me the motivation to look into available woodland courses and encouraged my employer to support me in this process. It has also spurred me very much into wanting to learn more.”

Andy Beeforth, Chief Officer at the Foundation said: “As Cumbria is such a rural county it is so important that we invest in the future of its farmers, foresters and horticulturalists. The Swales Trust aims to level the educational playing field and support people of all ages who are looking to pursue land-based qualifications but need a bit of money to help them along the way.”