Mary Thomson

I have thirty years of rural sector experience ranging from development of my own skills through part time grain trading, livestock farm work and tree planting in rural Scotland through to my current role where I lead a further education college team supporting learners from all backgrounds to develop skills and follow pathways to a range of fantastic rural careers. I sit on the college sustainability steering group, leading on natural capital and biodiversity.

Through thorough knowledge of the UK and Scottish rural sector skills requirements I manage the delivery of a range of accredited full and part time rural skills courses, from introductory to HND level.  I currently manage Scottish Qualifications Authority internal quality verification and co-ordinate feedback from external quality inspections.

I have extensive experience in the veterinary and animal health industry and as a business Director I coached and mentored veterinary professionals through transition from undergraduate education, so I fully understand industry and individual employer requirements for excellent and relevant skills training.  As an advocate of vocational veterinary nursing qualification, I used this method of training in veterinary practice successfully in the past.  My veterinary networks and experience of working for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons will support Lantra to progress with vocational registered veterinary nurse training.

During the EU Exit I worked with UK Government Directors, leading on veterinary and animal health & welfare input to DEFRA and their international policy teams and also worked internationally on animal health and public health.  For the livestock information programme I provided input on animal health and traceability and to the DEFRA Future Farming team I provided livestock information for the development of the Agriculture Bill.

I represented Scottish and UK Chief Veterinary Officers on complex policy development, including supporting industry led projects and funding initiatives to control endemic livestock disease.  This work required a confident approach, excellent communication and professional writing skills through which mutually beneficial business and community partnerships developed.

I am passionate about furthering the development of accredited, excellent and engaging skills training at all levels, implementing the use of digital technologies to enhance practical skills training and broaden access to rural skills education.  The use of technology supports precision farming methods, improves productivity and meets sustainability targets.

Since starting in my current curriculum manager role, I have worked continuously on mainstreaming equalities and creating engaging marketing materials portraying a range of rural career role models.  Next I will be looking at materials for schools as professional development and guidance for teachers to support equality on transition from school to college.

My volunteering experience includes Board level experience as Vetlife Trustee, delivery of practical skills training for veterinary undergraduates at Worldwide Veterinary Service, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and animal health and welfare management for The Donkey Sanctuary in Ethiopia.  Additionally, I have been an offshore youthwork volunteer at the Ocean Youth Club and Faramir Trust.