Vice-Chair, Carole Brunton, recaps the recent successful Women in Agriculture Scotland event held in Ayrshire.

Women in Agriculture Scotland brought together the people of Ayrshire and beyond to the fantastic venue at The Coo Shed, run by the Kerr family.

After coffee and shortbread, Alison Kerr, owner of the business, gave us an insight into what went on at The Coo Shed and the history behind it.

Alison used to work for a bank but with a change of career in mind studied horticulture before starting up the successful Corton Plants. The Coo Shed was opened in 2017 as an “add on” to this!   Little did they know how this would change life as they knew it.

Alison’s daughter Joanne works alongside her after coming home during covid.

The vending machines on the farm, which are open 24/7, provide fresh milk from their grass-fed herd of Holstein Friesian Cows which are looked after by Alison’s husband, Willie, and their son David.  Not only can you get fresh milk they now have a variety of milkshake flavours also – I tried the Irn Bru milkshake – delicious!

This was followed by a tour where we saw the vending machines (which also have delicious goodies like banoffee pie and millionaires shortbread) and the kitchen where everything is made with locally sourced produce.   Fun fact – They use 900 eggs per week!

This was followed by dinner where we got to network and chat and make new friends and catch up with old friends.  Alison commented it sounded more like a hen shed than a coo shed!

After dinner we heard from the inspirational Callum Deboys, an athlete and chef, who told us about how a motorbike accident changed his life.   Callum was on his way to work when he was involved in a serious accident and if it had not been for the Air Ambulance and the roadside medical care he would not be here.   Callum was put into an induced coma after 20 hours in surgery and his parents had to make the heartbreaking decision 5 days later that his leg should be amputated to save his life.   Three weeks later Callum was brought out of the coma to be told this devastating news – however after three days of feeling low and wondering what life would be like, Callum decided that life was for living and took up sport after meeting a British Paralympian who came to the hospital to help him learn to walk.   He has now competed in the Para Nordic Sit Skiing at the Beijing Paralympics in 2022 and has now decided that cycling is his next challenge.   Everyone in the room was blown away by his positivity and inspired by his zest for life.

Callum has also competed in Gordon Ramsay’s Next Level Chef where he got to the final and said that it was the most stressful thing he has ever done, but thoroughly enjoyed pushing himself and of course meeting Gordon Ramsay.

This was followed by a Q & A session with both Alison and Callum where they were both grilled about a variety of topics but the one comment that struck me from both of them was “surround yourself by good people and you will be fine.” Something we can all learn from.

I think it’s fair to say that we all went home feeling inspired by both speakers, full of good food, friendship and a trip to the vending machine on the way out!