Nuffield Cymru has enjoyed yet another busy year with a number of events taking place for scholars and potential new applicants. The annual summer visit was organised by our Chairman, Gareth Davies, where he welcomed scholars and their guests to Swansea and the Gower Peninsula.

The visit commenced with a social gathering and evening talks on mountain fires and rural crime. Craig Hope from the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service gave a fascinating insight into his work in tackling wildfires in the South Wales valleys. With fewer grazing animals and changes in land use in recent years, there has been a growth in wildfire fuels such as bracken and Molinia grasses. In 2018, the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service attended almost 2,000 wildfires on large areas of scrubland and forestry, many of which were very close to residential properties.

Members of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team also gave a presentation on the work they are doing to safeguard rural communities. With their newly launched Rural Policing Strategy, their approach focusses on four areas - prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurance. The Rural Crime Team were making better use of schemes such as Farmwatch and Neighbourhood Watch; better use of social media and sharing more stories with the local media and the community directly.

The following day, Nuffield Cymru members visited Dan Pritchard at Weobley Castle, the home of Gower Salt Marsh Lamb. Farming on a salt marsh common on the Gower Peninsula is not without its challenges, but Dan has turned it into a unique selling point for his home-produced lamb. The salt marsh stretch comprises 1,619 hectares (4,000 acres) and is home to seven farmers’ sheep flocks, all knowing their own patch of the landscape.

Dan has been using Primera rams for a number of years as he found them to be easy lambing and fast growing. The majority of the sheep lamb outdoors and they graze on the salt herbs on the marsh, which are high in sodium and iron giving the lamb its distinct flavour and taste.

Dan’s father heard of salt marsh lamb selling in France and thought they could do it as well. Therefore, in 2004, the family and their neighbour took the leap and started marketing and selling their lamb as ‘Gower Salt Marsh Lamb’. Since then, they have won numerous awards and they have renovated a farm building specifically designed for the butchery. Over 70 per cent of the lambs are now sold under the brand, with sales continually rising. This, coupled with constantly improving management and genetics, has ensured the business remains sustainable and profitable even without subsidies. In 2017, Dan won the Sheep Innovator of the Year Award at the British Farming Awards.

Later in July, both existing and potential scholars met for two informal receptions at the Royal Welsh Show. Large gatherings attended both the Mole Valley stand and a breakfast reception kindly hosted by HSBC.

With many Welsh scholars assisting potential applicants throughout the year, Nuffield Cymru continues to support them through the annual mock interviews and presentation training evenings. Going forward, Nuffield Cymru members will be actively promoting the scholarship through talks to YFC clubs and other groups together with holding the very first ‘Introduction to Nuffield’ event aimed at encouraging more candidates to apply and to highlight the unique opportunities on offer.

Aled Rhys Jones NSch - Honorary Secretary, Nuffield Cymru