Agriculture industry recognised in Queen’s Birthday honours list
REPRESENTATIVES of the agricultural industry have featured in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours which were announced at the weekend.
Thomas Gilpin, managing director of Gilfresh Produce, Co Armagh, has been awarded an MBE for his services to the agriculture industry in Northern Ireland.
Mr Gilpin has grown vegetables all his life. He started large scale vegetable production in the 1980s producing carrots, swedes and cabbage for the local wholesale trade. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Thomas expanded the business and developed the processing and packing facility mainly in response to the growth of the large retail multiples across the UK and Ireland.
In the mid 1990s Thomas was joined in the business by his younger son William. While Thomas is managing director of Gilfresh Produce he remains very grower focussed. His enthusiasm for vegetable production and marketing is very apparent.
Mr Gilpin said he was honoured to have received the award.
“It is a great honour to receive such an award on behalf of myself, my family and the company but also on behalf of all the vegetable growers in Northern Ireland.”
Thomas is married to Ruth. They have three grown up children Andrew (who is getting married on 10th September), William and Helen.
He is an active member of the UFU Vegetable Committee and the Horticulture Forum.
A farmer for 40 years, John Alfred Best, from Newry, Co Down, received an MBE for his services to the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland.
John is well-known in farming circles, particularly in his role as chairman of the seeds and cereals committee with the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Commenting on the award, John said: “I was very surprised – pleasantly surprised – and honoured.
“The award is a reflection on all the people who have worked with me over the years.”
Two Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials have received OBE awards.
They are Miss Bridget Josephine Glendinning, a principal, Single Farm Payments, Londonderry, and Mr Brendan Michael McCartan, senior principal officer in the Veterinary Service.
Miss Glendinning commented: “I feel truly honoured to be awarded an OBE. Over the years I have worked in a number of civil service departments with the past 12 years being in DARD. DARD plays an important role in growing and supporting the local farming industry and I am proud to be part of that work.”
She added: “This award is recognition of the work carried out by people like me who are doing their best to serve the local community.”
Mr McCartan said he had decided to accept the award as a recognition for the hard work and achievements of all the staff who have worked for him.
He joined DARD in 1986 after working overseas for 13 years including spells in Yemen and Swaziland. Having worked in most areas of Veterinary Service, Mr McCartan is currently working on procurement of the new NIFAIS computer system that will replace APHIS.
Mr McCartan said: “I am very surprised, somewhat embarrassed and very honoured to be awarded the OBE. I have always worked to the best of my ability, initially overseas and for the last 26 years with the Department of Agriculture. I gratefully accept this honour on behalf of all the DARD staff who have worked for me over the years.
“I am particularly proud that staff continued to provide a full service to the farming and agri-food industries throughout the Troubles. No matter how bad things got, our staff continued with their work and delivered a fair and professional service to all. I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of all these staff.”
A keen cyclist, Brendan is secretary of Phoenix CC based in Belfast and, along with three others, runs a Bike Aid for Africa project where they collect old bicycles and fix them up before sending them out to Africa with various charities.
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