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Encouraging innovation is integral to success

Encouraging innovation is integral to success

Fifteen years ago, fourth generation cider maker Martin Thatcher undertook a research study programme that set him on the road to shaping the Thatchers Cider company we know today.

The programme was a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. Throughout his twelve months of study and research, Martin’s absolute passion for quality in cider making was confirmed.

He explains, “Every industry needs to move and develop with the times. The Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust gives scholars an amazing opportunity to see what’s happening in agricultural and farming businesses here in the UK and around the world. It’s a great way to spot trends and be able to innovate within your own business enabling you to stay competitive.

“The insight I gained from my own studies has been invaluable; it confirmed for me the importance of developing skills, supporting the entrepreneurial spirit, and crucially, always striving to be the best.”

That’s why Martin is keen to support new Nuffield Farming Scholars as they progress in their own specialist fields.

One such scholar is Alice Jones, who is nearing the end of her research study into the commercial growing of elderflower for the drinks industry – “Understanding varieties, husbandry techniques and best practice in the commercial cultivation of elders for the UK elderflower processing industries.”

Food scientist Alice has spent much of her career working in small and medium size enterprises, focussing on product and process development, food safety and quality management. She is a firm believer in the value of an integrated food supply chain and she share’s Martin’s passion for quality, integrity and authenticity in food products. Alice currently works at the University of Nottingham supporting local businesses with food science consultancy.

“During my career I’ve become captivated by people’s love for elderflower – a quintessentially British flavour,” says Alice. “My study is researching the opportunities and growing potential for this traditional hedgerow crop in today’s drinks industry.

“The forward-thinking approach of the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust together with Martin Thatcher’s mentor support have been invaluable in understanding the opportunities and their relevance to today’s industry.”

Alice’s study will be published later this year.

Last year, the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust awarded its 1000th Scholarship to members of the UK food, farming, horticulture and rural industries. Applications are now open for 2021 Nuffield Farming Scholarships until 31 July 2020. Anyone interested in applying or learning more about their Scholarships are encouraged to email or visit their website at


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