Hartpury University student wins place on British Wool’s 2023 Training and Development Programme


A Hartpury University BSc (Hons) Agriculture student, currently undertaking an optional placement year, has been announced as the English winner of British Wool’s 2023 Training and Development Programme. The competition takes place each year, choosing one winner from England, Scotland and Wales.

22-year-old Tilly Abbott from Suffolk will receive one year’s free access to British Wool training courses, including machine shearing, gear training, and wool handling. She’ll also be invited to Bradford to visit British Wool’s Head Office to learn more about the wool processing chain. Working closely with British Wool, Tilly will also share her training journey on social media, with the press and online.

British Wool introduced the competition as part of a multi-faceted approach to support the next generation of shearers and wool handlers, something that’s crucial to a thriving UK sheep sector. Entrants had to submit a short video and a pitch explaining why they should be chosen for the opportunity.

Tilly said: “I entered the competition after seeing last year’s participants on social media and it seemed like an amazing opportunity to improve my shearing standard, knowledge, and level with guidance from some of the best in the industry.”

Tilly has been involved in the sheep industry since the age of 18 and is passionate about sustainability and welfare in agriculture.

She added: “Wool is an amazing product and being able to incorporate sheep into arable systems for several purposes can make a big difference in terms of agricultural sustainability and the welfare issues we’re currently facing in the UK and globally. Shearing is also very important for sheep welfare and sustainability, so I take particular interest as both a shearer and someone passionate about the issue.

“I’m very excited about the three courses I’m due to attend and am aiming to achieve my silver seal. I’m also looking forward to visiting the British Wool headquarters and the Bradford wool depot as I find the processing of wool from farm to customer incredibly interesting. It will be good to see what British Wool does with the fleeces I work with, how they’re graded and processed into a usable product, and the impact the shearing process has on a fleece.”

Richard Schofield, Shearing Manager, British Wool, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the training and development of the next generation of shearers and look forward to welcoming Tilly onto our courses and in participating in our training and development programme again this year.”

Phil Watson, Associate Head of Agriculture at Hartpury University said: “We always encourage our students to take every opportunity that comes their way, and Tilly is a great example of doing just that. Her enthusiasm and passion for learning and the industry will stand her in good stead during this programme as well as in her future career.

“I must commend British Wool for introducing this training and development programme. It’s great to see the range of support on offer for the diverse young people moving into our industry, many from non-farming backgrounds. It’s important that every effort is made to allow these individuals to pursue their professional and personal development to fulfil their potential and have rewarding careers.”

Tilly featured in Hartpury’s Faces of Agriculture series in 2022. Read her interview here.

Hartpury University recently joined a group of agricultural universities to produce a research strategy that sets out new steps the institutions are taking to join up their research and strengthen the difference they make on the ground. A new Digital Studio was also unveiled in May 2023. Home to the latest in precision farming technology simulation, this pioneering teaching facility will immerse students in agricultural tasks without leaving the classroom, as well as supporting the government’s path to net zero. It’s a game changer for agri-tech innovation in the region.

100% of Hartpury agriculture undergraduates in employment, further study, or other purposeful activity (Graduate Outcomes 2022).