Former gardener wins top RAU land management prize
By Sarah Wood
A rural land management student at the RAU will get her final year's fees covered, after winning a top prize.
Vitoria Menzies, 26, was awarded the prize for being the top performing student in the first two years of her course at Cirencester's Royal Agricultural University (RAU).
Victoria, who is originally from Sussex, initially trained as a gardener, obtaining her RHS level 3 qualification before setting up Thakeham Garden Company, which she ran for three years.
However, in 2021, she decided to follow her dreams and enrolled on the BSc rural land management course at the RAU.
Victoria said: "When I left school, I started studying a similar degree at Reading University, but then I was unwell and so I left Reading after only about six months. Once I was better, I trained as a gardener and set up my business in 2019.
"The Covid pandemic changed things for a lot of people and, while my business was going well, I always knew that land management was what I had always really wanted to do. Coming back to rural land management just felt like the natural thing to do."
The Pilkington Farms Partnership Prize, which covers the winning student's final year tuition fees, is given annually to the top-performing undergraduate student in their second year of study on a land or property undergraduate degree at the RAU.
Created by Richard Pilkington, an alumnus and friend to the RAU's land and property graduates, the prize is designed to reward academic performance and celebrate excellence and innovation in real estate and land management. It was first awarded in 2021.
Victoria continued: "I was so delighted when I got the call to say I had won. Returning to education as a self-funded mature student, who has worked full-time and had my own business, was a big decision. So this prize makes a huge difference."
Alongside her studies, Victoria had a placement with the land and property agents Savills this summer and has continued to work with them, at weekends in their Cirencester residential office and also as a rural assistant, which has given her valuable hands-on experience.
William Leschallas, head of employability and professional engagement at the RAU, said: "Victoria's hard work over the last two years has been well rewarded against some close competition.
"I would like to thank the Pilkington Farms Partnership for their continued support and offer of this very generous prize."
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