Prince Charles aims to unearth ‘new talent’ at Dumfries House farming school

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Prince Charles, 73, has been known for his longstanding support for the environment and rural life. But the Prince of Wales now hopes to provide further support by training a new generation of young farmers at a proposed school in Scotland.

The Prince’s Foundation submitted plans to build the single-storey agricultural school near Cumnock to East Ayrshire Council.

The school building would be located next to a working farm in the grounds of the 2,000-acre Dumfries House.

The move could come as a boost to British farming, which has faced challenges in recent years.

The Guardian revealed in 2021 that more than 110,000 smaller family farms had been lost in the UK since 1990.

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A design statement submitted by Charles’ foundation to the Scottish authority said: “The underlying principle is to bring new talent into the farming and rural sector, specifically targeting those with no current connection to it.

“In addition, programmes will continue to promote the wider principle of encouraging people to enjoy the benefits of spending time in the countryside.

“Delivery would be hands-on and practical, allowing students to immerse themselves in their subject area, giving them maximum opportunity to grow their knowledge, skills and passion for the industry.

“The aim of the courses would be to ignite interest in potential careers and further study pathways to higher level qualifications and specialisms.

“The Prince’s Foundation also recognises the need to pass on traditional and rural skills (hedge-laying, dry-stone walling, fencing, drainage, butchery etc) within the existing workforce.

“Target groups include secondary school pupils aged 14 plus, school leavers showing an interest in land-based careers, adult learners looking for a new career as well as farming and rural sector workers looking to upskill.

“Across the programmes, and including pupil events and sector workshops, the aim is to engage within the region of 1,800 individuals across a given year.”

Gordon Neil, an executive director of the Prince’s Foundation, added: “The foundation recognises the need to pass on traditional and rural skills, such as hedge-laying, drystone walling, fencing, drainage and butchery, within the existing workforce, and our proposed new facility next to Home Farm on Dumfries House estate will further broaden the agricultural education offering.”

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Charles led a consortium which purchased the Dumfries House for £45million in 2007.

The Telegraph reports his charitable foundation contributed £20million to save the Scottish property.

The estate then opened to the public in 2008 and it underwent extensive restoration work.

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