Farmers out in force for gala awards night
FARMING excellence was centre stage at the second Farming Life and Danske Bank awards held last night in the Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast.
Almost 300 industry representatives turned out to support the event, which recognises a range of award winners across the agri-food sector.
Keynote speaker was First Minister Peter Robinson, while Gerry Lavery, acting permanent secretary, represented the Department of Agriculture.
Other speakers included Rankin Armstrong, editor of the News Letter, which is this year celebrating its 275th anniversary, and John Henning, head of agricultural relations with Danske Bank.
Key award of the night, the lifetime achievement award, was presented to Eric Reid, who has been actively involved in the poultry industry in a career spanning 45 years.
He has risen to the top of his profession within his company as well as being a representative of the industry and has had an influential role in developing the supply chain in Northern Ireland.
The award for ‘farming champion’ went to David Johnston, a grass breeder at Loughgall, who has led a programme which has produced some of the most successful grass varieties in the world.
The title of ‘unsung farming hero’ went to Rathfriland woman Violet Bell, who has just retired from her role as secretary of Castlewellan and District Agricultural Show after 28 years’ service. Mrs Bell was a popular choice for an award which is decided by Farming Life readers through a telephone vote.
In the business categories, winners included: McLarnons Feeds (farm supplier of the year); Parklands Veterinary Group and Autoline Insurance Group (highly commended); Alan Milne Tractors (machinery company of the year); Quad-X (highly commended); Glens of Antrim Potatoes (agri-food business of the year) and Gilfresh (highly commended).
In the individual farming categories winners were: dairy – Alan Wallace (Antrim); highly commended – Mark Blelock (Crumlin); pig – John Tate (Moira); highly commended – William Ferguson (Stewartstown); beef – Jonathan Carson (Downpatrick); highly commended – Paul Turley (Downpatrick); poultry – John Richardson (Dungannon); highly commended – Stephen and Sharon French (Ballyclare); horticulture/arable – Sparky Pac (Comber), highly commended – Keenaghan Mushrooms (Moy); special commendations – Graham Hewitt (Portadown) and Andrew Herron (Comber); sheep – Roger and Hilary Bell (Kells): highly commended – Russell Scott (Newtownstewart); farm quality assured – Paul Turley (Downpatrick); highly commended – Russell Scott (Newtownstewart).
l See tomorrow’s Farming Life for full coverage of the awards.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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