Twenty trainee dairy technologists reached a significant career milestone when they completed the first year of their Eden training programme at Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire.

The technologists work for leading companies in the dairy industry and attend the Eden International Dairy Academy for block release training, spending the rest of their time in their workplace. They will graduate with a globally recognised foundation degree in dairy technology on completion of their three year course and are the eighth cohort to undertake the training. The unique education initiative is supported by key players in the dairy industry and is aimed at producing world-class staff.

There are currently 54 trainees on the programme. While at college, the technologists develop practical dairy processing skills in Reaseheath’s industry-standard dairy processing halls. The facilities enable the students to see food production from start to finish and also to carry out new product development.

Three of the trainees were in line for special honours as they celebrated completing their initial year of study.

Rita Rimke, 29, who works for Muller in Bridgwater, Somerset, was selected as the Best Practical Student, while Leigh Vinnell, 31, from Wykes Farm, Somerset, the biggest independent cheddar cheese producer in the UK, received the Best Academic Student award.

Sam Yearsley, 24, who is employed by Arla Foods in Llandyrnog, North Wales, was voted the Best Student Cultural Ambassador. A newcomer to the dairy industry, he said: “There are great practical facilities here at Reaseheath, particularly the dairy processing halls. This means that you can apply what you learn in the classroom immediately in a working environment.”

The awards were presented by Eden Course Manager Mike Bennett, who said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to teach these students and I am very proud of them all. They all performed extremely well and it was very difficult to choose the award winners.”