Devon young farmer Sophie Bould-Lynch has won the West Country Dairy Awards and walked away with £2,000 to spend on training and development.

The West Country Dairy Awards were established in the 1920s to provide grants for people studying dairy-related training courses. Today, the charitable organisation distributes around £18,000 every year to people of all ages looking to further their skills within the dairy industry.

Sophie said: “I’m a bit shocked to be honest. I’m very grateful and very pleased. The £2,000 is very helpful. I don’t have to worry about funding courses left, right and centre. The first thing I will do is go home and tell the family and then look up a foot trimming course.”

This year’s awards were sponsored by more than 20 industry partners, including Mole Valley Farmers, who provided the venue for the final judging process at their office in South Molton, Devon.

Mole Valley Farmers’ head of agricultural marketing and communications, Julie Edwards, and company chairman, Graeme Cock, were also on the judging panel.

They were joined by independent judge and dairy farmer David Cotton and West Country Dairy Awards chairman, Richard Kallaway.

The awards are open to anyone living in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. This year, 33 applicants were interviewed at county level with four of the best then chosen to move onto the final interview stage.

The three other finalists were Nicholas Hill from Tavistock in Devon, Holly Vickery, from Wincanton, Somerset, and Imogen Greenway, from Taunton in Somerset.

Although it was a close-run competition, it was 21-year-old Sophie who stood out to the judges thanks to her overwhelming enthusiasm and energy.

Sophie is general farm worker at her partner’s dairy and beef farm in Buckland Monachorum and also relief-milks for two other dairy farms. She balances this with studying at Duchy College, where she is just about to top up a two-year foundation course in agriculture to take it to degree level.

She is also secretary for South Dartmoor Young Farmers’ Club.

David Cotton was struck by her stand-out commitment to dairy farming.

“We will see her in the future. I felt that she really has a feeling for the industry and very much wants to be part of it,” he said.

Sophie believes “up-skilling is very important” and has already self-funded numerous courses such as first aid, spraying and artificial insemination. However she is keen to continuously develop her skills and add to her CV to make her more employable.

Julie Edwards was blown away by her enthusiasm.

“You get the impression that Sophie lives and breathes farming. The industry is reliant on young people with enthusiasm and passion like Sophie – well done!” she said.

All of the finalists were described as “the cream of the crop” with the remaining three also receiving £1,000 each to spend on dairy-related training.

To find out more about The West Country Dairy Awards visit