Nicola Godfrey, Spence Agricultural Scholar 2022

My name is Nicola, and I was a Young Farmer and Chairman of Westlands Young Farmers Club in Sittingbourne, Kent. I joined this club in 2015 when I became a pupil at Westlands Secondary School and loved every second of working on the school farm.

Because of all my great experiences of agriculture (primarily livestock based) on this farm, my passion for the field grew. I had always wanted to go to university, so deciding which degree to study came easy to me. I loved the University of Nottingham as soon as I found their page on UCAS and knew I wanted to study agricultural and livestock science here. The modules for this course also lined up with my primary interests: bovine reproduction, agricultural sustainability and animal nutrition. I will study these topics at some point in my academic career and link to my ambitions following my graduation. I have looked into becoming a climate scientist, studying the effects of climate change related to cattle production, or an animal nutritionist, helping to find feed for livestock to help them to efficiently grow to their full potential.

The Centre for Dairy Science Innovation also swayed my decision to put Nottingham as my first choice due to its primary aims and research technology. This farm has an amazing layout and management that allows the cattle to be part of trials in comfortable conditions.

The Spence Scholarship has allowed me to consider studying abroad next year or taking part in summer schools, due to the costs associated with these. The different programmes offered by the University of Nottingham will allow me to experience unique learning environments and meet a variety of people in the fields of agricultural and environmental sciences.

I would strongly encourage any students interested in agriculture and Higher Education to apply to an agricultural-based degree. These degrees allow graduates to apply to a range of jobs, spanning from being a crop agronomist to livestock genetics consultants.

The Spence Scholarship is a brilliant opportunity for students to become part of a wider community for the rest of their academic and agricultural career. The team at the Rochester Bridge Trust are friendly and welcoming, and I would like to thank them all for choosing me to be one of their scholars.

What an amazing start to my new chapter in life! My first year of university has been amazing to say the least. I have made some friends for life in my flat, from my course and around the campus. We have gone on a few hikes together, notably around Batman’s House and Bakewell.

This year I been involved with the Agric Society, joining them on training days, helping around the university dairy and farm visits. My favourite farm visit was to a large estate in Newark. They grazed a medium sized herd of longhorns in a woodland that contained some of the oldest trees in England!

My studies have also kept me thoroughly entertained. Sustainability in Agriculture Systems was my favourite module of the year, where we were tasked with writing an essay about any agri system of our choosing and presenting to the class. I took this opportunity to learn more about American and European bison, a subject I had recently become very passionate about.

With the Rochester Bridge’s generous scholarship I was able to book my driving theory test, practical test and find an instructor in the area. I am so grateful for this as I have been able to catch up after the pandemic backlog. This has been important for being able to travel around the Sutton Bonnington village and driving to potential placements. Wish me luck for my test!


I have had a fun-filled summer, beginning with a little lambing in Cornwall! It was such a lovely experience bringing new life into the world while surrounded by such a picturesque landscape.

I attended the South of England and Chertsey Shows with Abbey Court Special School. I helped the children prepare and show a Kunekune gilt (female pig), a Zwartble ewe and a Valais Blacknose ewe lamb. The girls did rather well, walking away from the shows with a 2nd, three 3rds and a 6th place. 

In July I attended the Kent County Show with my old Young Farmers Club (Westlands) as a Teacher Leader. It was so rewarding to help and watch the members show, knowing I had contributed towards their huge successes. Over the weekend we accumulated more than 50 rosettes, including two Champions and a Reserve Supreme Champion. Despite being a little rusty I had a go at showing, earning a 4th place with a Hereford x Holstein heifer and a 5th with the Kunekune gilt.

Besides the agricultural fun, I went to an Arctic Monkeys concert in June, spent lots of time with family and continued work on our house extension with my Dad.


I would like to thank the Rochester Bridge Trust again for its continued support in my studies. I can’t wait to start my lectures this year, especially since I have chosen the majority of my modules. This semester I will also be looking for a suitable placement to take a Year in Industry in 2024. I hope you had an enjoyable summer. Roll on Year 2!

As I reflect on my first semester of my second year at the University of Nottingham, I realise I have been up to quite a bit. To kick off the year, I took on an Italian language module, providing me with an introduction to the language and culture. I picked this as learning a language had been a goal of mine for a little while, especially since I hadn’t taken a language at GCSE or A-Level. This module has been a highlight of my semester as the teaching style in the University Language Centre is vastly different to what I am used to within the School of Biosciences. The workshops and lectures were very interactive and enriching.

In October I plucked up the courage to join the Wakeboarding Society. This is a water sport which involves standing on a wakeboard and being towed behind a motorboat, crossing its wake. I had always been interested in wakeboarding as my Dad used to go most weekends in the summer when I was a child. I had the odd go here and there, but I always liked the idea of becoming a lot more confident on the board. Despite having a very cold autumn and winter, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Wakeboarding Society. The committee and members are so inviting and friendly, the socials are great, and they are all a pleasure to stand and chat with while shivering on the lake bank waiting for the next cable to come around. I can’t wait for the warmer weather to arrive so I can improve on my skills and begin using the features/jumps around the lake.

These past couple months I have had a few agricultural adventures too. In November, I travelled up to Edinburgh to attend the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs’ 5 Star Awards Dinner. My friend was one of six finalists in the Young Farmer of the Year category, so it was great to be given the opportunity to support them. We had a great time, chatted to a variety of people, and ate some very lovely food.

In December, I popped over to the Melton Mowbray Cattle Market to attend their Winter Fatstock Show and Sale. Ever since I joined my Young Farmers Club in 2015 it had been a goal of mine to attend an event at the famous Melton Mowbray Market, so this day was a wonderful experience for me. I saw some great cattle, sheep and pigs on show, as well as some lovely looking Melton Mowbray Pork Pies! I loved watching the sale at the end of the day, guessing the price the animal would go for and comparing it to the price as the gavel struck.

More recently, I visited LAMMA – the UK’s leading agricultural machinery, technology and equipment exhibition – for the first time. It was great to see all the innovative machinery on display. I had some inspiring chats with various industry professionals, notably IAE about their new 800 Series Cattle Crush. I managed to catch some of the Farming Simulator League gameplay too.

Over my Christmas break I went back to work at Abbey Court School’s Larkin Farm in Kent. It was nice to see all the staff and stock again. We welcomed the Zwartble ewes back from being served in Buckinghamshire, ready to lamb in May. I can’t wait to see the Zwartble lambs bouncing about the fields!

I also recently popped over to my previous Young Farmers Club. It is always a delight to catch up with the teacher leaders and members. I love hearing about all their YFC competitions and socials, and seeing how their spring show calves and new rams have grown. If you are aged between 11 and 28 and are not a member of a YFC, I would urge you to join one, agricultural background or not. Joining this club changed my life forever, and I wouldn’t have changed any part of my time there for the world.

My sandwich year placement search has been rigorous since September. So far, I have attended two Assessment Centres, which were unique and enriching experiences. These were the first times I had been interviewed to this extent. It was truly remarkable to be able to speak to peers from different universities and agricultural backgrounds, and industry professionals. At these centres I was interviewed, placed in group activities, given exercises to complete and made presentations to industry professionals and company management.

The highlight of my placement search so far would have to be my time at Genus’ Ruthin Stud. We were shown around the facility and – in between interviews and exercises – taught in detail about what their company does. My favourite part, like many others, was watching the bull parade and presentation.

I have a few plans for my year ahead:

  • In April I have arranged to assist a family lamb their flock of Blue Leicesters and Mules in Cumbria. I am very excited about this opportunity to refine my lambing skills and spend time on a working farm in a beautiful area of this country. 
  • I plan on attending some more agricultural shows, sales and events through the spring and summer, potentially having a chance to show again. 
  • Similarly, I am looking forward to attending Crufts again this year. I used to watch the shows on TV, yet ever since watching them in person I much prefer going to the actual event.
  • I have picked some inspiring modules for this semester, Principles of Animal Health and Disease in particular. 

I cannot wait to see what 2024 has in store for me, and how my educational career develops. I wish you all a healthy and prosperous new year!