Region’s farmers celebrate success in British Farming Awards 2020

Photo shows: Farmers Guardian’s Farming Hero award Sam Stables
Farmer Sam Stables

The 2020 winners of the British Farming Awards were revealed at a digital award’s ceremony last night, supported by Morrisons.

The event, which was broadcast online and hosted by Vernon Kay, showcased the innovation and achievements of British farmers across the agricultural industry.

Organised by AgriBriefing, parent company of Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming, the 16 awards welcomed entries from across farming’s core sectors including beef, arable, machinery, dairy, agricultural students and family-run businesses.

The awards also continued to shine a spotlight on the emerging new agri-technologies coming into the industry along with talented new entrants and a hugely diverse array of diversification enterprises.

Sophie Throup, Morrisons Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Sustainable Sourcing, said: “This year more than ever as we have faced huge challenges feeding the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic, British farmers have one again come to the fore.

“Thank you to every farmer who continues to help keep food flowing, growing and rearing fantastic British products for our customers and their families.”

The winner of this year’s Farmers Guardian’s Farming Hero award was Sam Stables who, not only took on an entire flock of sheep from Yorkshire to his Herefordshire farm and lambed them for a friend stricken by the coronavirus, but has also launched a charity to help with mental health issues among the farming community.

Mr Stables, a tenant farmer on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, recently received a personal commendation of support from HRH Prince of Wales along with a donation to fund further charitable work from We Are Farming Minds.

One of two winners of Arable Innovator of the Year was Edward Burman of Hemp whole foods Kingstanding Farm, Warwickshire. Edward Burman began growing industrial hemp for cooking oil and animal feed on his family’s arable and livestock enterprise last year. Both Edward and his father’s backgrounds lie in mechanical engineering and they used their experience to fabricate a specialist combine header to more efficiently manage the harvesting of hemp. Edward wants to quash negative perceptions of the crop and its relation to drug problems through education and marketing. The eventual aim for producing hemp is to have a sustainable crop with zero waste, and every inch of the crop having its own unique purpose, including as livestock feed, bedding and as a building material.

Contractor Innovator of the Year went to, Rob Burtonshaw of Farm Services Ltd in Warwickshire. The company specialises in drainage for agricultural, amenity and sports grounds, with heavy investment in recent year in the most modern machinery to complete tasks as efficiently as possible. By investing in the latest technology, training employees and carrying out research around the globe, the company has become more competitive, significantly increased its output and is able to take on larger contracts

Digital Innovator of the Year Winners were Caenhill Countryside Centre, Marsh Farm, Wiltshire, a not-for-profit organisation, which helps children learn in a farming environment. and David Hill of The Greatest Online Agricultural Show in Berkshire.

Before the Covid-19 restrictions Caenhill Countryside Centre would have had 20-50 young visitors each week. So it turned to social media to allow the centre to secure the  donations it is reliant upon to keep functioning. Every morning a daily ‘rush hour’ video is posted, which shows all the animals being let out of the barn for their daily roam.

Chris gives an entertaining and comedic commentary and it was one of these videos which went viral globally and, in turn, gave the farm an amazing social media following. Boasting 73,000 followers on Twitter, 159,000 on TikTok, 21,000 on Instagram, 11,000 on Facebook, 2,700 on YouTube and millions of video views, Caenhill Countryside Centre is world renowned and its strong following has allowed the centre to continue on in what could have been worrying times during the pandemic.

David Hill knew many would be missing their local agricultural show. What began as a fundraising idea in March to bring local farmers together during a lonely time, became a hugely successful event, raising thousands of pounds and uniting the agricultural industry and the general public.

In just over five weeks, David gained funding from Andrew Lazenby, chief executive of Innovation for Agriculture, who financed the website, assisted by colleagues, and gained the support of Steve Eyres and his team at Altido to build the website. Through a marketing strategy, much hype was built for the event on social media, gaining more than 4,500 followers on Twitter and 5,000-plus members on a Facebook group.

The online event boasted more than 800 competition entries, 250 sponsored trade stands and more than 6,000 visitors to the online platform over the weekend. And to top it all off, £18,000 was raised for five rural mental health charities. David put his all into the event and his hard work was streamed on the Farming Today show twice and featured on many local news and radio outlets, with snippets from competition entries going viral on social media gaining millions of views.