An Ayr worker has been given a prestigious national award for her "inspirational" work.

Joanne Kerr, a 21-year-old café manager from South Ayrshire, has been awarded runner-up in the prestigious NFU Mutual’s Inspirational Young Person Award.   

The award, which is in its fifth year, was launched by the commercial insurer in partnership with industry leadership organisation Scotland Food and Drink, seeking to uncover inspirational examples of talented 16 to 26-year-olds who own, work or study in the food and drink sector.

The award aims to highlight not only the enormous contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food and drink businesses, but also the importance of the sector to the wider economy.  

Runner-up winner Joanne works as deputy manager at the Coo Shed – a farm-themed coffee shop with fresh milk vending machines, set on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Ayr.

The Coo Shed is a local hub for the community and for visitors from all over the world to the seaside town.

As well as a thriving café, it has nine milk vending machines supplying fresh farm milk direct to customers.

Joanne, who wins a £300 prize, was praised for her ‘can do’ positive attitude.

The judging panel were also impressed by her fantastic work ethic across many areas of food preparation and hospitality responsibilities at the Coo Shed, and feedback from her manager included her popularity among fellow colleagues and customers.

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Joanne Kerr, this year’s runner-up winner, said: “When I found out I had received the runner-up award I was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe it! I am delighted to have been placed in this coveted Scottish food and drink award.

She added: “The best part about working in the Coo Shed is meeting new customers and seeing them leave happy each day. I am part of an amazing team who are all enthusiastic and passionate about this family business. I am really looking forward think I will need to take my family out for dinner to celebrate!”

Mark McBrearty, NFU Mutual regional manager, said: “Selecting a winner and runner up from the high quality of entries this year was very difficult, but I am delighted to be congratulating Sophie and Joanne, both worthy winners and wonderful ambassadors for our world-famous food and drink industry.”

Mairi Gougeon, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands, whose responsibility includes agriculture, food and drink policy, said: “I’d like to congratulate Joanne for demonstrating the commitment, hard work and flair that is so vital to our food and drink industry.

"I know that this will inspire other young people to explore the exciting opportunities available in one of Scotland’s most successful sectors.

“The award also coincides with Food and Drink Fortnight during which we celebrate Scottish produce and encourage people to discover what is available right on their own doorstep.”

Iain Baxter, chief executive at Scotland Food and Drink, added: “Scotland has a proud reputation nationally and internationally for its food, drink and hospitality.

"Supporting the future of our sector by recognising up and coming talent is crucial to its long-term success.”