Video: Winners of Farming Life/Danske Bank awards revealed

It really was a case of country coming to town last night as the annual Farming Life and Danske Bank awards were held in the Ramada Plaza, Belfast.

Seventeen awards were presented during the evening to a range of primary producers, agri food businesses and individuals who have been outstanding in their field.

Debbie Reid from Danske Bank, DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen, Thomas Gilpin Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award pictured with Ruth Rodgers, Editor of Farming Life. Picture Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Debbie Reid from Danske Bank, DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen, Thomas Gilpin Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award pictured with Ruth Rodgers, Editor of Farming Life. Picture Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Key notes speaker was the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen.

The key award of the night, Lifetime Achievement, sponsored by Danske Bank, was presented to Thomas Gilpin, from Armagh, for his commitment to the arable industry.

Mr Gilpin grew up on a farm in Portadown and started his career in 1965 with a 4.5 acre field, growing vegetables for supply to small shops. His company, Gilfresh, based at Loughgall now has a turnover of £18 million and manages the growing of over 2500 acres of root vegetables, salad crops and brassica vegetables. There is a team of 130 talented people and 40 Gilfresh growers.

A special video on the lifetime achievement award featured a tribute to Mr Gilpin by First Minister Arlene Foster.

Violet Wilson, Peter Gorman and Jason Whitcroft pictured with Thelma Gorman Winner of the Unsung Hero Award. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Violet Wilson, Peter Gorman and Jason Whitcroft pictured with Thelma Gorman Winner of the Unsung Hero Award. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Other award winners were as follows:

Horticulture Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Tescos: C&L Mushrooms, Mayobridge; runner- up Roy Lyttle Ltd, Newtownards

Agri-Food Business of the Year 2016 Sponsored by BDO: Gilfresh Produce, Loughgall

Pig Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by KARRO – Cookstown: David Watson - Ballygawley; runner-up Warren and Joanne McConnell, Rathfriland

Farm Supplier/Machinery Company of the Year 2016 Sponsored by AJS Promotions: OBE Waste & Agri Engineering Ltd, Donacloney

Beef Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Jim Nicholson MEP: James McKay, Maghera, Co Londonderry; runner-up: Castlescreen farm - Downpatrick

Woman of Excellence in Agriculture 2016 Sponsored by Creagh Concrete: Lorna Robinson, Cloughbane Farm Shop, Dungannon

Poultry Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Moy Park: McMenamin Family Poultry Farm, Dromore, Co Tyrone; runner-up Jonathan and Margaret Kirk, Saintfield

Young Farmer/Student of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Diane Dodds MEP: Ryan McCoy, Antrim; runner- up: Kelly Adams, Newtownards

Sheep Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Budget Energy: Campbell Tweed, Larne: runner-up David and Liz Mawhinney, Newtownards

Artisan Producer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by JPH Law: Ballinteer Farm Quail, Coleraine

Dairy Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by Alltech: Christopher Brady, Florencecourt; runner- up Richard Corry, Newtownards

Farm Safe Award 2016 Sponsored by Farm Safety Partnership: Liam McCarthy, ABP Food Group

Wildlife Farmer of the Year 2016 Sponsored by RSPB: Roy Lyttle Ltd, Newtownard; runner-up: Sam Bonnar, Ballymena and Philip Bell, Ballynahinch

Unsung Hero Award 2016 Sponsored by Simple Power: Thelma Gorman, Armagh

Commitment to Training Award 2016 Sponsored by Lantra: Mount Stewart, National Trust

Farming Champion Award 2016 Sponsored by Ulster Farmers’ Union: Michele Shirlow, Food NI

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 Sponsored by Danske Bank: Thomas Gilpin, Loughgall