21st Century Land Girls: Celebrating women in agriculture

In the past, women have played minor roles among the agricultural industry, but they are now being celebrated for their crucial involvement within this traditionally male-dominated sector.

Angela Huth’s wartime book ‘Land Girls’, set in 1941, highlights how women proved their value and capability as farmers as a way of supporting the country. Now, 78 years on, women’s voices are increasingly being heard.

This International Women’s Day, as a way of recognising and celebrating women working in agriculture, EN4 News spoke to some inspiring females to find out why a career in this field is proving to be more popular among all ages.

Janet Mcquistin – (Photo Credit Caroline Mcquistin)

“I love my job because I enjoy working with animals and being outside,” said beef and sheep farmer Janet McQuistin.

“My secondary school guidance teacher was horrified when I said I wanted to farm, as she said it would be a waste of my qualifications. I’m so glad I followed my passion.”

Janet farms with her husband and is widely respected in the local area and beyond due to her involvement in Scotland’s livestock industry.

“I have never faced any discrimination in the livestock world and have judged shows and served on committees equally with other men. There are fewer challenges physically for women like me now in that everything can be mechanised.”

Mrs McQustin went on: “Many also have the opinion that women should be trained in doing farm books, feeding calves or running diversification businesses such as holiday lets. Why can’t some people just see that we want to farm?”

When looking to connect with other female farmers, Janet finds Instagram a particularly useful platform for networking.

“Instagram is brilliant because there are so many female farmers posting about their daily work on the farm. Making these connections helps remove the isolation and solitary nature of our occupation.”

Gemma Sloan, 23, farms alongside her father, grandmother and sister on the most southernly farm in Scotland.

“Farming is something that I’ve always known and is in my genes. I help run a livestock and arable farm, as well as a diversified café on the cliff edge at the Mull of Galloway.

“My granny was also brought up in wellies, surrounded by sheep. She has certainly inspired me to get involved in the family farm,” explained Sloan.

With women now heavily involved in all aspects of the industry, Jane Craigie from Aberdeen runs a marketing and communications agency, specialising in agri-food and rural issues. She employs six other females from across Scotland.

Photo Credit – Jane Craigie Marketing

“Women play a vital role in all aspects of agriculture, and the industry has dramatically moved from a male-dominated one to an increasingly inclusive sector. I am completely pro-talent, not pro-women,” she told EN4 News.

“In my experience and as an employee of all women in my own marketing team, I feel that women are natural communicators, innately curious, empathetic and creative, which is crucial in the future development of the industry.”

Being the first women to be appointed to the Ringlink Scotland board, one of the UK’s largest agricultural business rings, Ms Craigie is enthusiastic about encouraging more women onto the agricultural board as a way of recognising talent irrespective of gender.

These women are part of the push to create diverse career opportunities with the farming sector. Despite the industry still being male-dominated, females more respected than ever and celebrated equally for their work.

For more information on women in agriculture organisations, follow the below links:



Growth of Edinburgh Fringe audience concerns event organisers in annual report


The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has vowed to adjust the way the event is advertised after concerns over the impact of its growing audience.

After releasing the annual Fringe review for 2019, organisers have acknowledged that a new strategy managing the city during peak periods needs to be taken.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We still have work to do. Our world is changing rapidly, and at the Fringe Society, we’re changing how we do things.

“As I’ve said many times, we don’t have a growth agenda for the Fringe; our audience development strategy is based on the mantra of ‘one more show, not two more feet’, encouraging those already here to engage more with the festival.”

Last summer’s event attracted over three million to Scotland’s capital and was classed as one of the world’s over-tourism hotspots last summer.

As well as admitting that better approaches need to be taken to handle tourism constraints, the Fringe has also pledged to make the event more sustainable during the climate crisis.

“Maintaining the Fringe’s global outlook while minimising the festival’s carbon footprint is a challenge, but we will ensure that sustainability is embedded across all our activities,” McCarthy explained.

This eco-friendly approach has seen a reduction in the printing of Fringe programmes from 395,000 in 2017 to 350,000 in 2019, with a plan to invest in digital alternatives in the future.

“We have used technology to engage with artists around the world and reduce the need for travel, developing our online FringeCasts, a series of live streamed advice sessions for prospective Fringe artists,” McCarthy added.

“The series has massively improved our ability to reach participants abroad, with viewers tuning in from 51 countries and every continent on earth except Antarctica.”

McCarthy continued to explain that these improved approaches will require a lot of work, but by working on a shared agenda with Fringe venues, artists and fellow Edinburgh festivals, they will collectively make a difference to future Fringe Festivals.

Sticking by last year’s aim of strengthening community links across Edinburgh, McCarthy said they are “committed to finding a balance of deepening local roots and celebrating our position as one of the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.”

Scottish SPCA launch urgent appeal to find homes for eight Edinburgh snakes

A Scottish animal welfare charity has launched an appeal to find homes for eight snakes residing in Edinburgh.

Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that the eight rescue snakes, which are currently in the care of the Edinburgh Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, would require specialist care.

He warned that the reptiles’ long lifespan makes them a lifelong commitment and any prospective owners must have the correct setup.

“If the snakes become ill, then they will need to be seen by a vet specialising in exotic animals,” Flynn said. “Of course, our staff are always happy to give advice and support to new owners, especially if it’s their first time owning a reptile.”

The team at Scottish SPCA also note that regular human interaction is key to these snakes making great pets.

The eight snakes, named Stu, Steve, Scout, Smith, Grace, Scorch, Coto and Clarence, are all corn snakes, a species of rat snake. Originally from North America, corn snakes are commonly kept as pets due to their docile nature and moderate size.

Clarence the snake (Credit: SPCA)

Many people often overlook snakes as pets, which is why many need a home, explains Diane Aitcheson, manager of their current residence.

“The majority of people coming to the centre are generally looking for a more traditional furry companion, not necessarily a snake,” Aitcheson told EN4 News.

“Poor Clarence has spent almost 1,300 days in our care. He’s feisty and a fussy eater, so he’s looking for an experienced owner who can monitor his weight.”

Many of the snakes found at the centre have been injured and therefore require great care and careful handling by any future owners.

(Credit: EN4 News)

“Scorch was found as a stray with an injury which sadly resulted in him having the tip of his tail amputated,” Aitcheson went on to say. “This hasn’t held him back, and he’s incredibly friendly, happily slithering in and out of your fingers before resting over your arm.”

“All of these snakes could make brilliant companions for the right owner. We always say rescue pets make great pets and these corn snakes are no exception,” she concluded.

For more information on rehoming any of the snakes, contact the Scottish SPCA’s centre in Edinburgh on 03000 999 999.


What’s the beef at Edinburgh Uni? Students clash on controversial beef ban vote

BEEF between students at the University of Edinburgh will finally be resolved after voting on a motion to cease the sale of the meat product within student association cafés and restaurants concluded today.

The controversial motion was brought forward at an University of Edinburgh student council meeting in late January, making it the first Scottish university to vote on a beef ban.

Elena Silverstein, a student who attends the university, set up the petition and was involved in bringing this proposal forward to the student council.

“Ceasing the sale of beef in the students’ association cafes and shops would be a highly impactful way of reducing our university’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Silverstein told EN4 News.

“The climate crisis is something we all need to take more seriously and we will certainly not be immune to its effects here in Scotland.”

Silverstein believes that although eating beef is up to the individual, the university should not be encouraging it.

“The motion simply stops people from causing environmental damage through the university. Any student has the absolute freedom in Edinburgh to buy as much beef as they choose but I feel that being unable to purchase beef in student shops and cafes is a small step in the right direction to combating climate change.

“I am pleased, no matter how this vote goes, that we are discussing such an important issue.”

Last week’s meeting found that 76 votes in favour and 73.5 against, resulting in the motion being put to an online ballot.

The potential ban has split student opinion and led to fierce debate across the university and beyond.

Veterinary student, Sarah Whitelaw attended the debate and spoke to EN4 News.

“Coming from a rural area, I was taken aback that this motion was even proposed,” Whitelaw said.

“I was in utter disbelief that this could feasibly happen in such a large and diverse university – inclusive of all cultures.

“I have received messages from as far as New Zealand about the shock and outrage of this motion and I only hope this support doesn’t go unnoticed.”

The environmental impact of eating beef (Credit: Rhi Ramsay)

The “beef” has continued to sizzle throughout the week.

A 20-strong group of agricultural students from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) claimed they were denied the chance to vote due to not being directly matriculated within the university.

The students from Scotland’s Rural College told EN4 News: “We felt secluded from the meeting as we did not get chosen to propose an argument, despite being some of the first people to raise our hands.”

The rump of the beef continued to stew in the lead up to today’s voting deadline, and was further only further seared when third year student Benedict Willacy promised to buy a steak for every student who votes against the ban.

“This promise will help celebrate a fantastic British legacy that is the production and consumption of beef. The only thing this motion will succeed in doing is harming Britain’s post-Brexit farming industry,” Willacy told EN4 News.

While he agrees more action is needed on climate change, Willacy believes a beef ban is not the way forward.

“Banning beef on campus is like putting a plaster on a haemorrhage wound – it simply isn’t enough,” he added.

“This motion is a symbol of EUSA’s (Edinburgh University’s Student Association) authoritarian regime.

“It’s about changing the dynamic of student politics. It’s about being heard. It’s about saying ‘no’.”

Results are expected following the conclusion of voting this morning.


What is the mood on campus?

EN4 News spoke to University of Edinburgh students in George Square about the controversial vote

Pia: “I’m a vegan and I 100% support it for the animals and for the environment.”

Marie: “I think it should be the consumer’s choice and if nobody buys it then it’s fair to not sell it anymore but I think it shouldn’t be imposed and if you are arguing for sustainability I think it would be smarter to argue for making it local or making it organic meat. In that case banning all meat is quite a random way to argue for a sustainable cause.”

Daniel: “I think it is a good idea. They should do it, I’m all in favour of it.”

Greg: “I think it is a bad thing to force the students. People should have the choice to eat beef or not. They shouldn’t be forced into vegetarianism so I would be kind of against it to be honest because you should be able to eat beef if you want to.”

Rebecca: “You can buy food outside of the university, but I guess it’s up to the students.”

Scott: “I don’t like the idea of it. You’re forcibly restricting people’s diets. I understand the environmental implications at the same time. I feel like it should be a personal choice. It is not something that should be mandated by officials rather than someone’s own personal agency.”


New Year, New You? Why 19% of us are likely to have given up on our New Year’s resolution by today

January 17 has been coined “Ditch your New Year’s resolution” day after studies showed it is the day people are most likely to have given up their January 1 self-improvement vow.

Most people tend to look towards improving themselves in traditional ways. These include working on their health and fitness along with saving money and reading more books.

So why do we still set New Year’s resolutions for ourselves year-in, year-out despite only a small amount of people sticking to them? A recent survey has revealed that only 19% of Britons are successful at keeping their resolutions.

If you have given up on your resolutions already then you are clearly not alone. We all have good intentions but these never seem to last very long.

EN4News spoke to psychological therapist Sara Huibregtse Van Loon to find out more about why we give up so easily and what the reasons for that are.

She says people make these goals with the knowledge that they might not actually succeed.

“It seems that that date [today] was set to give people a way out of their resolutions should they want it.”

When asked why people give up on their resolutions, Sara explained that people tend to pin too much hope on succeeding that they forget how challenging it is to actually do so:

“Long-term thinking requires a lot of discipline… we tend to underestimate task difficultly whilst over-estimating our ability to succeed at tasks.”

info 2

(Infographic: Laura McCulloch)

Background and age can have an effect on how likely certain people are to succeed with their resolutions.

“Individual differences in personality, circumstances and life experiences are likely to play a large role,” Sara said.

However, it is important to note that there was no background information that Sara could give us to expand this further.

For Sara, it’s important that people set realistic goals that they are willing to physically work towards. She went onto explain that resolutions are often more superficial based:

“Resolutions, as opposed to other goals, tend to be focused towards achieving an ideal version of the self and with so much pressure on the resolution to create improvements in the way the person sees themselves, others and the world, the resolution even if stuck to, usually cannot live up to that – therefore, people can drop them quite easily.”

But how does failing impact upon our mental health? For some people, failure can take its toll on their mental wellbeing as they tend to take this failure to heart:

“We can easily fall prey to cognitive distortions or ‘thinking traps’ such as all-or-nothing thinking which is where, e.g. my resolution might be to switch to a plant-based diet, but then I eat some cheese and think – ‘that’s it – I’ve ruined it now, I may as well give up.’”

Edinburgh plays host to the UK’s top agricultural business event

Agriscot 1

Image: Laura McCulloch

The Highland Hall at Ingliston in Edinburgh opened its doors on Wedensday to host Agriscot, which is now widely regarded as ‘one of the premium events in UK agriculture’.

Farmers across Scotland used the day as an opportunity to advance their knowledge on available products, services, advice and information necessary for their personal business; as well as socialising with old and new faces.

Scottish beef farmer and agri-affairs chairman of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, John McCulloch said: “Events such as AgriScot are vital for the Scottish Agricultural industry, as they give farmers and businesses the chance to promote, engage and reflect.

“These are all more important now than they ever have been before due to the current propaganda which has been advertised against the industry.”

The event provided a chance for farmers to seek answers to the countless questions the industry currently share. As well as offering some of the best commercial and technical advice on offer and a display of some of the most supreme livestock in the UK.

Agriscot vid

Image: Laura McCulloch

“I have attended AgriScot for the past 3 years and it is one of the most enjoyable days of the year. The seminar breakout sessions this year were excellent and gave us a chance to hear from industry professionals on a large range of topics,” John added.

With one in two farmers in Scotland now suffering with poor mental health, events such as these are crucial to helping farmers lead a healthy work, life balance.

“Coming here today helps many of us break away from isolating areas for a day and helps tackle the taboo of mental health, which is one of the biggest issues facing our farming families. In my view these events are key to success for the future of positive farming in Britain,” John explains.

Although targeting farmers directly, this year’s event offered plenty for the non-farming community to enjoy, as a way of providing education to the general public on this important sector.

John added: “It is crucial that we are heard among the wider population as they are the customers who buy our products.

“It is often forgotten that young people with no previous experience in this industry may want to get more involved in it, so it is important we provide as much education at these events as possible.”

For more information on Wednesday’s event and for full results check out the AgriScot website here.

Scottish islands among the happiest places to live in the UK

Scottish Island Inforgraphic

Infographic by: Laura McCulloch

Despite suffering severe weather and being cut off from the mainland, Scottish islands have been reported as the happiest places to live in the UK, according to new data released by the Office for National Statistics.

The annual ‘personal well-being in the UK’ report asks people to rank their happiness, anxiety and life satisfaction of where they live.

The highest rated areas included the Western Isles, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. These locations all reported consistently high ratings of personal well-being since March 2012.

Shetland recorded particularly high levels of happiness over the past seven years.

Twenty Year old, Jacob Eunson explains why Shetland will always be his home:

“The scenery here is fantastic and the people are extremely nice. Unless something was to drastically change, Shetland will always be my home,” said Jacob.

He explained that safety and community were key reasons as to why he finds contentment on this remote island.

“It’s such a safe place, I never have to worry about where I’m going. We don’t experience knife crime or issues that are faced in the cities, so it’s nice not having to watch my back.”

“Shetland also has a strong connection between the younger and older generations. Since it’s an Isle we all depend on each other. Young people get involved to help keep the community and economy going,” added Jacob.


Views of Shetland

518 miles South West from Shetland sits the untouched corner of the inner Hebrides. The Isle of Jura is where Amy Dunnachie grew up, before moving to the mainland to study silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art. After graduating, Amy said goodbye to her life in the city and returned to the coastline she calls home.

“I always knew I wanted to come back to Jura at some point. The community spirit here is phenomenal. People are very passionate and proud to be living here and I for one am proud to say it is where I belong”.

isle of jura

The Isle of Jura is a close community

Currently working as a community development and youth development officer, Amy works between the Isle of Isla and Isle of Jura. Her work has allowed her to appreciate the importance of community on an island where only 200 permanent residents live.

8.2% of Jura’s population is made up of 16 – 29 year olds. According to Amy the peaceful, friendly atmosphere is preventing the younger generation from moving elsewhere.

“One of the best things about living on an island with a small community is that you are friends with everyone no matter what their age; I have friends aged from 16 – 94. A lot of people here have a great sense of humour and our thriving social calendar helps connect everyone on the Island.”

To read more on the 2019 UK well-being report follow the link below:


If visiting Shetland or the Isle of Jura is on your bucket list, follow the links below for more information: 





Read more lifestyle here:

The scariest thing about Halloween is the waste!

Will Instagram’s ban on self-harm images be enough to protect vulnerable users?

Seasonal pumpkin recipes to save waste this Halloween

halloween_leaves_plants_pumpkin-1166734Pumpkin season is just round the corner and what better way to get in the Halloween spirit than trying out our top pumpkin inspired recipes.

Carving pumpkins into lanterns is a tradition that stemmed from Ireland. Originally turnips and potatoes were used but when Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered pumpkins, the ritual was formed

Last year in a Guardian survey, research found that approximately 8 million pumpkins were binned after Halloween in the UK. This was the equivalent of enough pumpkin pie to feed the whole nation.

Follow these seasonal recipes below, to ensure you make the best of your pumpkin leftovers this Halloween.


1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup whole milk
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
Whipped cream in a can, optional

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and sugar mixture. Gradually stir in milk. Pour into pastry shell.
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 45-50 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Top with whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.


Info graphic by Laura McCulloch


One of the best ways to ensure no leftover pumpkin goes to waste this Halloween, is to cook up a hearty bowl of soup.

Follow Jamie Oliver’s Autumn recipe to create ‘glorious roasted pumpkin soup’. https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/glorious-roasted-pumpkin-soup/

• 1.5kg edible pumpkin
• Olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried chilli
• 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
• 1 large onion
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 carrot
• 1 stick of celery
• 1 litre hot vegetable stock

1.Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Half the pumpkin and remove the seeds (you can keep these for roasting), then chop into wedges. Place the pumpkin on two large baking trays and drizzle over a little olive oil. In a pestle and mortar, grind the chilli and coriander seeds with a pinch of salt until finely ground. Sprinkle the spices over the pumpkin with some black pepper. Roast the pumpkin for 1 hour, or until soft and slightly caramelised at the edges.

2.Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Heat a lug of olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan then add the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and sweet but not coloured.




An alternative to handing out bags of sweets and chocolates this 31st is mini pumpkin cupcakes. According to BBC Good Food, these are simple to make and a hit with young children. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pumpkin_and_rosemary_11109

60ml/2fl oz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
180g/6½oz self-raising flour
130g/4½oz wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
100ml/4fl oz plain yoghurt
275ml/10fl oz milk
1 tbsp honey
240g/8½oz cooked pumpkin, cut into ½cm/¼in cubes
handful pumpkin seeds

1.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Oil a 12-hole muffin tin and line with 12 squares of baking paper. Push the squares down into each hole so that the paper sticks up.

2.Sift the flours, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in the salt and rosemary. (Reserve any wholegrain left in the sieve.)
Meanwhile in another bowl, mix the eggs, yoghurt, milk, honey and vegetable oil until well combined.

3.Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold the ingredients together, but be careful not to over-work the mixture. Stir in most of the pumpkin, reserving a little for the top of the muffins. Spoon the mixture into the muffin ca1377700265_bf21568ee7ses.
Sprinkle the reserved wholegrain, pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds over the muffins. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.




Coronation Street story line prompts a rise in cancer check ups

It has been an emotional week on the cobbles for coronation street fans, who have been preparing to say goodbye to bubbly character Sinead Osbourne. The actress’ traumatic exit has stretched further than the famous street, by prompting a rise in cervical screening.

The plot hit TV screens when UK cervical screening rates were at their lowest in two decades. However, since the story line has developed, actress Katie McGlynn has been contacted by several nurses, informing her of a noticeable uptake in women getting tested.

During a Loose Women interview, Katie said: ” I feel overwhelmed by the response that we’ve had. I’ve had woman message me saying that they hadn’t gone for their smear test but now they have and they found pre-cancerous cells.”

The actress also posted one of the messages she received on Twitter:

The NHS cervical screening programme saves approximately 5000 lives annually, however 1.2 million women are not taking up their invite to get tested each year.

NHS manager of Stranraer Cancer Drop In Centre, Aileen McClymont says: “Thanks to our National Health Service we have one of the best and most accessible cancer screening services in the world. It is so important that anyone eligible takes up the offering of screening.”

Research undertaken by the NHS highlighted that 1 in every 3 woman fail to attend cervical screening tests due to embarrassment. According to Cancer Research UK there are around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer every year in the UK. Yet research also suggests that 99.8% of cervical cancer cases are preventable if women were to get tested.

“Shockingly statistics now show that 1 in 2 us will develop cancer at some point in our lives. However with early detection and better awareness, the survival rate will increase. Nobody ever wants to hear the news they have cancer but tests like cervical screening are key in fighting the disease,” added Aileen.

Cervical Cancer symptoms

Info graphic by Taylor Campbell

The soap highlighted several issues through this story line, including raising awareness of having cancer during pregnancy. The first signs of Sinead’s diagnosis came last year whilst she was pregnant. She gave birth to son Bertie, but was later told her cancer had returned and had few months to live.

The actress spent months researching to ensure she did the story line justice and said during the Loose Women interview: “I just wanted to do it properly”.

This research included working with Mummy’s Star, a charity who support woman affected by cancer during pregnancy. http://www.mummysstar.org/

Mummy’s star is the only charity in the UK and Ireland dedicated to supporting woman and their families affected by cancer during pregnancy or within 12 months of giving birth. Cancer Research UK indicates that 2 women a day are diagnosed with cancer in or around pregnancy.

“When we first had the interview with Mummy’s star I felt really ignorant because I didn’t even know that could happen,” admitted Katie.

“A lot of shows do highlight issues like this but not fully and don’t always show the sad, authentic outcome. I love this story line because it covers so many current issues,” she added.

A half hour episode will air on Thursday 24th October at 8:30PM and a special hour long episode at 7:30PM on Friday night will both be dedicated to Sinead’s final chapter on the cobbles.

For more information visit:




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