The event, which showcased inspiring women from a range of rural industries, was attended by over 200 women; young and old; and from a variety of walks of life.
The event kicked off with College Chief Executive and Principal, Jeanette Dawson OBE, welcoming the guests to the event.
“I am incredibly proud to be welcoming you all today on this very special day. To see so many inspiring women looking back at me, some of whom are my role models, is a great achievement and one which we should all be proud of.
“Today’s audience also features some of our students who are about to embark on their own journeys. I’d like to thank you all for being role models for our future generations, and for inspiring them to think that anything is possible.”
Lizzy Massey, Vice President of Asda Own-label echoed the Principal’s opening remarks, highlighting the importance of female role models to society.
“We should never underestimate the role of the woman; in the workplace, in society and at home; acting as a role model for colleagues, friends and future generations. Our young people have more opportunities than ever before, and it’s thanks to the pioneering efforts of many of the people in this room. The rural industries have long been dominated by men; but today’s speakers, and the audience in front of me, proves that is no longer the case.”
The audience was given the chance to listen to the incredible stories of ten inspirational women, all working, and thriving, within the rural industries. From Razan Alsous, founder of Yorkshire Dama Cheese, who fled war-torn Syria with nothing, to Jenny Costa who created a new product, Rubies in the Rubble, after she was appalled at the UK’s food wastage statistics, the day was filled with the unique and emotional journeys of each of the 10 speakers.
Jenny Costa, who set up Rubies in the Rubble, a successful chutney and preserves brand, felt it was especially important to mark International Women’s Day.
“I grew up in a household with an avid gardener for a mum. She was always growing fruit and vegetables – more than what we could eat - but instilled in us a sense of sustainability in the way she turned the excess into jams and chutneys. She has most definitely been my inspiration… I still can’t make plum jam as well as her though.
“Without her, I wouldn’t have been inspired, or had the passion instilled in me, to tackle food wastage in the way I am doing today. Moments like today give me the chance to reflect on, and thank her, for the impact she had on my life. I wouldn’t be doing a job that I love if it wasn’t for her.
The audience also heard from speakers including; Di Wastenage, owner of Wastenage Farms who won the coveted Farmers’ Weekly Farm of the Year award; Alison O’Neill, founder of the clothing brand The Shepherdess; Jane King, CEO of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board; Amy Jobe, Lincoln Russet CEO; Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation; and Helen Clarke, Quadtrac World Record holder who raised £30,000 for charity as part of her record-breaking attempt.
The Inspiring Women in Rural Industries event was held to commemorate and celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 and was the brainchild of College’s Centre for Agricultural Innovation Manager, Rhonda Thompson.
“I was particularly keen to host this event on International Women’s Day as its incredibly important to show that the glass ceiling in agriculture and the rural industries has been well and truly smashed, thanks in part, to the pioneering efforts of today’s speakers” said Rhonda.
“One in two of our agriculture students are now female, so to enable our students to hear from, and be inspired by, women in the industry is a great opportunity. I’m immensely proud of the achievements of my peers in the industry and today was a great way to celebrate and showcase their hard work and determination. They are fantastic role models and I hope they have empowered our students to believe that anything is possible when they move into industry.”