Cumbria. Thursday, 28 March 2013: This morning, The Prince of Wales visited a Land Rover driver-training programme, where applications for a new Bursary scheme that aims to support British countryside communities, were officially opened. During the visit The Prince of Wales again highlighted the urgent need to help Britain’s rural economy, and called for more support for countryside communities.
Visiting Kitridding Farm, near Kirby Lonsdale, to meet a variety of beneficiaries and experience training first hand, His Royal Highness announced details of the new Land Rover Bursary in partnership with The Countryside Fund. The scheme will offer a bursary to five individuals or groups who can demonstrate that the use of a Freelander 2 for a year would enable them to support their rural community.
During the visit, The Prince spoke to a number of young people currently benefiting from his charity about their ambitions and the challenges they faced. Matthew Alexio, a hill farming apprentice from Cumbria, said: “When you’re brought up surrounded by landscape like this, you never want to leave it. Hill farming gives the satisfaction of rearing livestock and the peace of mind that the landscape is being preserved. If we weren’t supported by apprentice schemes like this, there would be no one our age entering hill farming. We are the future of farming and have a responsibility to manage the countryside.”
The Prince showed off his own skills by taking part in a training session where he drove a vehicle on a mini-Terrapod, an off-roading mobile unit that uses a combination of steep slopes, low friction surfaces and other obstacles to emphasise the grip and traction abilities of the vehicle.
In his speech HRH the Prince of Wales said: “I really want to use this opportunity today to express my warmest possible gratitude to Land Rover for their really remarkable generosity in ensuring we now have this splendid scheme.
“Land Rover, as a fully-fledged supporter of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, is creating a bursary of its own with the gift of five Freelander 2s for a year which can be won by five individuals who can demonstrate that they will be using the cars for the rural community.
“It is this sort of willingness to be involved that makes a fantastic difference in ensuring we can maintain the priceless national asset that is our British countryside.”
The Countryside Fund beneficiaries learnt a variety of skills from winching to how to drive safely off-road. Laura Schwab, Marketing Director of Land Rover UK, said: “Having reliable and dependable transport to work in the countryside is essential and we hope these bursaries will benefit entrepreneurial farmers. Driving skills such as towing and winching are crucial when it comes to being able to use a vehicle such as a Land Rover Freelander 2 to its full potential. At Land Rover Experience we aim to be able to teach these specialist skills to anyone needing them, either for day to day travelling around the countryside or more specific working needs.”
Victoria Harris, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We are delighted to announce that applications are now open for our Land Rover vehicle bursary and are excited about the variety of people and businesses that we are expecting to apply. 4×4 vehicles are crucial in helping rural businesses get around the countryside for their daily business needs and providing this opportunity to our rural communities is a fantastic thing to be able to do.”
Land Rover announced in January a three-year partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund. The partnership involves the support of rural communities by offering Freelander 2 vehicles to five groups or individuals who demonstrate how the use of the vehicle will benefit their community. They could be a young entrepreneur starting a rural enterprise, an apprentice hill farmer or an organisation offering free transport to rurally isolated people or access to training opportunities for young people dedicated to building a sustainable future for rural communities.
More detail on application criteria can be found at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk