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Lanark Teenager Unveiled as Young Ambassador for Farming with Dyslexia Campaign

Nearly one year on from the launch of the Farming with Dyslexia campaign, NFU Scotland has unveiled its first Young Ambassador.

Young farmer Kirstie Baird met with Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment at the Royal Highland Show on Friday June 19 in her first formal outing.

Kirstie, an agricultural student studying a three-year degree course in Agriculture, has been recognised as having dyslexia and has received the relevant help through Scotland’s Rural College Ayr campus to allow her to commit to studying and gaining a higher qualification, that she suggests may not have been possible otherwise.

As a farmer’s daughter, Kirstie knows first-hand the work involved in running a farm, and is keen to encourage others who have dyslexia, particularly young farmers, to come forward and get the relevant help they need to reach their full potential. She has been working with the Union in recent weeks to set objectives going forward and will help to further the campaign.

NFU Scotland’s Farming with Dyslexia campaign was launched in July last year and has involved the Union working with a wide group of stakeholders, including Dyslexia Scotland, the Scottish Government and SRUC on a working group.

The aim of bringing Kirstie on board as a young ambassador is to encourage young people who have dyslexia to speak out and address the stigma that can be attached to dyslexia. Kirstie will play an integral role in giving young people a voice on the working group and feed into the campaign as it progresses.

The 18-year-old is a member of Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and was only formally diagnosed at college.

Kirstie commented: “My involvement with this campaign has given me the confidence to move forward and work towards my ambitions and aspirations in agriculture.

“As dyslexia can be hereditary and with 25 per cent of students within SRUC having dyslexia, what will it be like for the next generation?

 “If we have any hope of helping future farmers and ridding the industry of the stigma attached to dyslexia, we need to act now and get support. This campaign provides a great platform for this to happen, and I’m really excited to be involved.

“We need the younger generation to get on board in order to give them the confidence to get the help required, whether whilst at university or college, or those who are already in employment within the agricultural industry.”

NFU Scotland Vice President and Chairman of the Farming with Dyslexia Working Group, Rob Livesey commented: “Since the campaign launch, it has gone from strength-to-strength and we are delighted with the positive response received from farmers and crofters wanting to share their stories about this important issue.

“NFU Scotland’s campaign is working to make life easier for dyslexic farmers and those working within agriculture. Over the past 12 months, NFUS has overhauled its own publications and emails and changed the way we communicate with members.  These simple changes have made our documents more accessible.  We have also set up a Farming with Dyslexia helpline for those who want to speak to us about how they are dealing with dyslexia in their farming business.

“The work of the Farming With Dyslexia Working Group is also making great progress, seeking practical tools that can assist farmers and farm workers with dyslexia with the routine paperwork that now characterises everyday farming.

“We are delighted that young farmers like Kirstie have come forward to support our campaign, and with her help we hope we can spread the good work of the campaign to wider groups working in our industry across Scotland.”

Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead commented: “I fully support the work of NFU Scotland’s Farming with Dyslexia campaign, and I very much welcome Kirstie’s appointment as the campaign’s Young Ambassador.

“We know a significant number of people working in Scottish agriculture have dyslexia, which is why the Scottish Government is committed to doing what we can – through our work on the Farming with Dyslexia Working Group - to provide appropriate assistance.

“This includes reviewing the way RPID communicates with staff and customers to identify ways in which we can be more dyslexia-friendly, for example by developing a style guide for written documents, improving staff training and increasing the accessibility of the new Rural Payments and Services online system.”

Scottish Association of Young Farmers Club’s Chief Executive, Penny Montgomerie, commented: “SAYFC is pleased to be supporting the Farming with Dyslexia campaign as dyslexia is an issue that will impact some of our members who may need support and reassurance that they are not alone. By raising awareness we can encourage and empower these individuals so that they are have a fair footing within the industry.”

Note to editors

  • For a photograph of Young Ambassador Kirstie Baird with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead at the Royal Highland Show please email media@nfusorg.uk. It will be available from 4pm on Friday 19 June. A photograph of Kirstie on farm is also available.

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 119/15


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