Budding winemaker lands scholarship

By McIvor Times

HEATHCOTE’S Tom Dando has been awarded the inaugural Heathcote and District Community Bank Rural Scholarship.

Branch Manager Michael Prowse said the Heathcote Rural Scholarship Program was launched in recognition of the district’s significant farming community.

‘‘We’re very supportive of the district’s farming community and after running farming events for the last three years we’ve seen that there’s a real need for a scholarship like this,’’ Mr Prowse said.

Applications for the scholarship were open to individuals of all ages who wish to sharpen their skills or extend their tertiary training in any of the rural industries.

Tom says the $3000 scholarship will be a ‘‘massive’’ help as he studies his Diploma of Viticulture / Certificate IV Horticulture through GOTAFE Wangaratta.

Tom started working in the wine industry two years ago for a harvest with Silver Spoon Estate and has been working for them ever since. “I love vineyard work as it is out in nature and working in the earth,’’ he said. ‘‘Wine is something I love and especially Heathcote’s wine. It’s great to be part of a wine region that punches so far above its weight.

“This is what I see myself doing for the rest of my life. I hope to one day run my own vineyard and winery here in Heathcote.’’

Tom says the fact that he has been awarded the scholarship is a great motivator. “I definitely don’t want it to be a waste of money and want to do as well as I can in my study. I’m going to be using the $3000 to buy all of the text books and to pay for accommodation and expenses for when we have on-campus study each semester. Having this money means that I can afford all of the text books recommended not just the required reading.”

He added: ‘‘This scholarship means so much to me. It’s a real honour and such a great thing to do for the local community. I don’t hear of many other banks doing such great things for the community.”

Mr Prowse said, “It’s because of our customers that we’re able to run programs like this; without their support the funds wouldn’t be available. The more customers we have banking with us, the more funds we have available to return to the community. It really is as simple as that.”