Vaughan Trust continues to support CAFRE students

Date published: 04 March 2024

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Enniskillen Campus delivers part-time Agriculture and full-time and part-time Equine courses. The college has a history of delivering training to support the development of agriculture and enjoys close links with the Vaughan Trust.

Amy Rowlands from Coleraine received the Vaughan Trust Award from Olwen Gormley for attaining highest marks on the first year of the BSc (Hons) Degree in Equine Management.

George Vaughan of Buncrana Castle, County Donegal, was born in 1693. Coming from a family of immense influence in the county, George showed a passion for supporting agriculture and recognised the need for agricultural education for farming tenants on his estates.

George had a strong connection to County Fermanagh where he purchased almost 5,000 acres of land around Kesh, the Castle Hassett (Crevenish) estate, encompassing 22 townlands and five islands. In 1753, he set out his last Will and Testament, indicating that his vast estates were to be bequeathed to close relatives, with detailed stipulations to the will. The main stipulation was that a charity school was to be established on his Fermanagh estate to educate young people. George directed that the school should be open to boys and girls, of both religions, showing a broadminded approach for that era. His  ethos of total inclusivity is adopted by the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Enniskillen Campus today.

After his death in 1763, there were some family and financial difficulties that delayed and then curtailed the building of the school, however, in 1780 the Vaughan Charter School opened to students. This school, situated at Tubrid, was open to all and favoured tenant farming families from the local area. It remained operational until 1934 when it closed, before being demolished in 1955. In 1936 an Act of Parliament ensured that school lands were handed to the Ministry for Finance and a board of Trustees established to oversee them. The Vaughan Agricultural Institute was set up in the same year and aimed to demonstrate good farming practices for local farmers. This institute ran until 1972.

By 1969 the new College of Agriculture opened in Enniskillen, now the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Enniskillen Campus. With this new college in the area, it was deemed unnecessary to maintain the Vaughan Agricultural Institute, all lands and assets were sold, and the proceeds were invested in the charities’ branch of the Department of Finance. The income from these investments is what funds the modern-day Vaughan Trust.

The Vaughan Trust is governed by a board of Trustees who are empowered to support local agriculture in Fermanagh at their discretion. Within Enniskillen Campus there is a board room, named the Vaughan Room. The room displays a portrait of George Vaughan, a drawing of the Vaughan Charter School and pictures of recent Trustees highlighting the strong links between George Vaughan and the College.

The Vaughan Trust made its first award to Enniskillen College students in 1975 when three top students and a staff member received assistance to visit a country within the then European Economic Community. In the years that followed, a wide range of awards presented have enabled students to attend large agricultural shows and study trips. One of the initiatives that was funded and supported by the Vaughan Trust was a college pairing scheme. Enniskillen Campus is paired an agricultural college in Limoise, France, and over of 100 students availed to exchange opportunities.

To the present day, the Vaughan Trust continues to support students at Enniskillen Campus, providing awards to top students across a range of courses. The continued support from the Vaughan Trust is of immense benefit to CAFRE students, helping to ensure that their hard work is recognised and rewarded. And it all started 260 years ago with the philanthropy and legacy of George Vaughan.

If you are interested in finding out more about the courses offered at Enniskillen Campus, book to attend our next Open Day on Saturday 13 April, visit the CAFRE website for details.

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