£90,000 needed to support military leavers entering the rural sector 

HighGround, a charity helping military leavers, reservists and veterans into the land-based sector, seeks £90,000 a year to run 8 residential Rural Insight Weeks a year at Bicton College in Devon, which will support more than 80 individuals. 

HighGround and Bicton College are seeking to build on the success of this year’s programme of Rural Insight weeks, which showcase the variety of opportunities available to military leavers in the land-based sector. 

It costs £1,335 per individual. During the 5-day residential course, individuals experience 15 vocational areas including agriculture, horticulture, forestry and arboriculture, environmental conservation, countryside & game keeping and rural estate management.

HighGround’s founder and Director of Development, Anna Baker Cresswell said; “We have had a fantastic first year at Bicton and so many people have contributed to the success of 2017’s Rural Week programme during which we welcomed serving personnel and veterans from all 3 services - from a 22 year old private soldier with 4 tours of Afghanistan under his belt to a hugely experienced weapons handler who leaves the RAF in 2018 after 36 years’ service – these are all veterans who really want to work, and just need a bit of a leg up to get them going again.”

Anna continued: “As others in the land-based sector will confirm, there are skills shortages in many areas including Horticulture, Agriculture and Food Production, and the men and women of our Armed Forces are a precious asset which, especially at this pre-Brexit moment in our country’s history, we can ill afford to ignore.”

“Since we piloted HighGround’s Rural Weeks back in autumn 2014 the programme has grown beyond my wildest dreams and I am very proud that as an organisation we are doing our bit to help those who have served their country to find life beyond the military – outdoors,” commented Anna Baker Cresswell.

Marc Stickley, a former Rural Weeks delegate attended the course 6 months after leaving the Army: “The resettlement system had not been able to answer my questions relating to careers in the rural sector and I was pointed in the direction of Anna Baker Cresswell and the HighGround charity. The course at Bicton College was fantastic - the other attendees were from varied military backgrounds and all brought experience and aims for the course that fed into the dynamic of the week.”

The delegates learn from a range of industry experts sharing their knowledge and experience through classroom presentations, practicals and visits.

Neil Huck, training manager for Ground Control, on the businesses strongly behind the work being done by HighGround and Bicton College to promote second career opportunities to former armed service personnel said: “Many come to us with existing skillsets of problem solving and showing initiative, combined with a can-do attitude and strong work ethic, making them extremely employable.”

Bicton College Principal, Phil Le Grice added: “We are proud to host HighGround’s Rural Weeks. The College has trained students for the land-based sector and more recently runs a very successful Military Academy. We feel it is fitting, therefore, that the College is helping to support ex-service men and women to establish themselves in rural careers once again.”

If you are a business or an individual that would like to support in any way, please contact Anna Baker Cresswell on anna@highground-uk.org  or tweet her  @HighGroundBoss