IN the Autumn of 1984, a nervous youth from a farming hamlet on the most northerly slopes of the English Lake District travelled south with a car full of clothes, rugby kit and hopes for the future.

The Royal Agricultural College was a world far removed from the first 18 years of my life.

Three years later armed with an all- important Rural Estate Management qualification, I was able to return to Cumbria and a job at the new Penrith Auction – Trainee Land Agent and Auctioneer.

Those three years in the West Country, taught me a lot, and not just about land management. It was not without its challenges.

College days for me were a means to an end. I was there for the qualification. I probably didn’t make the best of student life having found myself integrated into the local community, rather than the college. I even ended up playing rugby for the local town 1st XV rather than the college. I left in disgust at being dropped for a gangly youth called Ben Clarke who went on to play 40 times for England and three caps for the British lions, but that is another story.

That is not to say I didn’t enjoy my student days, but for me it was a job that had to be done, if I wanted to get a proper job. Thankfully, I achieved that aim.

Thirty-three years later I find myself managing the Farmer Network, based for now, at Newton Rigg, our long- established Agricultural College (1896).

I often talk to farmers who were here in the 80’s at the same time I was at Cirencester. Some of their own children are studying at Newton Rigg. A common theme is always how good it was to get away from the family farm and learn different techniques. Dad’s way of doing things was not always the only way.

Land Management is a changing world. Our young farmers, foresters, and gamekeepers at Newton Rigg, will have to adapt and learn like never before.

In future they should be food producers and conservationists under one portfolio. With the right support they will be brilliant, offering several public goods to a rising population.

Sadly, there is a cloud on the horizon. Newton Rigg College is set to close in July 2021. The parent college Askham Bryan based near York, is to pull the plug following an independent review.

However, all is not lost. A strategy group has been formed to challenge the decision and to look at what learning is needed to help our future land managers to prepare.

You can expect to hear a lot more about this. The Farmer Network will shortly be asking farmers to support the steering group and contribute to help develop a business model for future learning.

This is the next step in the evolvement of Newton Rigg, and it is much needed. This will be your chance to help and in doing so ensure that future Newton Rigg students have the right support.

*Adam joined the Farmer Network in 2015 initially working three days each week, but has now increased this to four days.

He is involved in all facets of the Network working closely with the Board of Directors and the Management Councils to ensure that the Network is delivering what members want and need.

The Farmer Network Ltd is an independent not for profit company that provides help and support to farmers and their businesses.

Formed in 2006, the company currently has more than 1,100 members.

They brand themselves as a friendly, grassroots farmer’s organisation with an experienced team of knowledgeable people used to dealing with most queries and challenges that today’s farm business can experience.If they don’t know the answer, they will know the right person who does, through our many corporate members, sponsors and other associates.

Away from the Network Adam performs with a band called the Soul Survivors playing all over the North.