I was fortunate to get through the application process and then the infamous interview panel and offered a scholarship for the 2016 year group.
I was presented my Nuffield Tie in Belfast on the 25th November 2015 at the annual winter conference that changes venue throughout the UK each year.
Nuffield UK then host a pre-CSC (Contemporary scholars conference) at the farmers club in London, where the UK year group got to know one another and had various presentations from different areas of the farming industry.
It was then off to Cavan in Ireland for the actual CSC where all appointed scholars from across the world spend an incredibly intensive week together based around a rigorous schedule of lectures from all aspects of the world of agriculture, mental health and various other challenging topics.
The door is then opened to allow you to travel wherever you require in the world (grant paid by the Nuffield foundation through generous sponsorship, mine was sponsored by the AHDB and Three counties agricultural society)
Quite possibly the trickiest thing is to arrange appointments and meetings in another country that keep your diary busy enough to make sure you are guaranteed to learn something, but open enough that leads gained when there can be followed up (interestingly enough, it was these leads that generally were the most interesting)
Obviously pulling myself away from my family following the tragedy of Jobe was one of the hardest things, but on 28th June 2016 I arrived in Minot North Dakota – I had 2 choices, make the most of the opportunity that had presented itself for the next 6 weeks or wish I was at home, thankfully I chose to make the most of the opportunity and absolutely loved it, visiting 19 states over 6 weeks driving over 8000 miles and meeting the most fascinating people and seeing some of the most amazing sights too!
The next planned trip was to South Africa, incredible experience yet again, planning experience from the USA helped as well as contacts and of course you can’t go to South Africa without going on safari, fortunately the incredible Madikwe safari was organised for me where my family and the Richardson-Walls flew out to spend that time with me, another inspiring trip.
South America occurred in December 2016 where I visited Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru – all fascinating from an agricultural view point and equally fascinating culture and tourism, highlights for me was attending River Plate v Boca Juniors (The Superclásico) The Brazilian Amazon but probably more impressive the Pantanal, the worlds largest privately owned arable farm Grupo Bom Futuro (460 000Ha) the Nazca lines (despite the pilot having some sort of kamikaze licence) Machu Picchu and some of the oldest agricultural research stations still in operation on planet earth.
The final set of travels was the big one! A year in the planning and sorting visas and itineraries and getting international clearances! The very idea of taking a train from our nearest train station in Ledbury and training it right to the Southern tip of China (Nanning) The flying through Singapore to Western Australia before touring the whole of the Australian production areas.
Travelling through Belarus, Russia, Mongolia and China took a huge amount of planning made much easier by the company https://realrussia.co.uk/ who are truly fantastic at sorting everything from visas to hotels, tours and even cash in Mongolia as you can’t get Mongolian currency outside Mongolia!
All of this whilst taking my 70-year-old Mother with me! There are endless amounts of highlights, but I guess the photograph of my mum, ice fishing in lake Baikal in the middle of the Siberian winter with a wind chill of -65 degrees is something I’ll never forget. China was another awesome experience and once let into the country is truly fascinating beyond explanation.
Whilst Nuffield is not a holiday, it is an experience that shouldn’t be missed and therefore to make the absolute most of (after all weekends and public holidays might be free for personal time) prior planning means you will be able to do both the hard work and enjoyment of the culture of the countries you get to visit. For this reason, I made a Nuffield #notaholiday video of all of the wonderful things I did around the world in the 21 weeks of travel I was able to do. This was made easier by the support of an amazing family, especially Helen.