THE team behind the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show has launched a fund to support students entering the world of agriculture - starting with a 874-mile cycle.

The ‘Student Support Fund’ will target those stating an education or training in agriculture, horticulture or countryside, by helping cover costs of tuition fees, books, equipment, transport and more.

The money to aid these budding land lovers will be raised by the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society through challenges, events and fundraisers, including a trio’s feat cycling from Lands’ End to John O Groats in just 12 days.

A previous Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society president, Anthony Wilkinson, alongside Julie Hillier and Rob Gale, started the cycle challenge on Sunday with a £2,000 target, aiming to pedal around 80 miles a day.

Following the scheme launch current president Matthew Price said: “2020 has been a very strange year so far and not least for the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show itself, which was forced to cancel.

“However, the society is determined to remain positive in its outlook and during these economically uncertain times wishes to establish a new Student Support Fund’.”

Matthew added: “I am honoured to be launching such a key innovative. In such difficult times for our students we feel strongly that it has never been more important to help the very best in the field enter such key industries, that not only feed the country but also make up a vast part of the countryside economy.

“We wish Anthony, Julie and Rob the very best of luck on their long journey to John O Groats, and we look forward to raising a fantastic amount of money to support students entering our countryside industries.”

The society will open applications in the new year offering help with the cost of 2021/2022 college or university essentials and support.

For more information about the 874-mile cycle and to donate to the Student Support Fund please visit the trio's Just Giving page.