The winner of NFU Mutual’s inaugural Tidy Farmyard Awards was announced at the Balmoral Show on May 17.
Devised to demonstrate the importance of a safe working environment, the competition attracted 60 entries from farmers across Northern Ireland, keen to demonstrate how they are making their farmyards safe for workers, family and the public.
Over the course of two days, a panel of judges travelled over 450 miles visiting the six shortlisted farms to meet the farmers and see for themselves how safety has been made the priority in the workplace.
The unanimous winner is Gareth Kee (pictured) of Castle Mervyn Farm, who runs a family farm in Trillick, Co Tyrone with his father Norman. Gareth is himself a father of three young children and clearly demonstrated his commitment to maintaining a well-kept farmyard and the positive impact this can have on efficient and safety.
Second place was awarded to Allan Chambers of Cottage Farm, a beautifully maintained mixed arable and poultry farm in Co Down.
In joint third place were Thomas Steele from Rowreagh Farm in Kircubbin and Paddy Donnelly who farms near Ballymena.
Designed to raise awareness of the good practice of Northern Ireland’s farmers in today’s modern industry, the idea for the awards came from NFU Mutual’s staff and network of agents in Northern Ireland.
Entries were initially judged on four photographs which showed how each farm addressed the challenges of maintaining an efficient tidy farmyard, with the judges visiting six finalists to get a detailed picture of how they address safety on their farms.
The award judges were: Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation, Barclay Bell, former President UFU; Malcolm Downey, HSENI, and Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Manager for Northern Ireland.
“We’re delighted that the awards have created so many excellent entries and has also raised awareness of farm safety ahead of silaging and harvesting – one of the most risky periods in the farming calendar,” said Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Manager for Northern Ireland.
“Visiting the finalists showed much can be done to reduce the risk of farm accidents by removing risk wherever possible and protecting people from what remains.
“I am hugely impressed by the positive mind-set of the finalists and their determination to make safety to their first priority on their farms.
“It was a tough task to decide the overall winner, however, Gareth Kee’s careful planning of a safe farm yard and attention to detail were the deciding factor. Seeing how the finalists had approached managing the potential hazards of a busy farm yard also shows it’s not necessarily expensive or time-consuming to put safety first but more about your mind-set and making sure that everyone on the farm understand the need for safety.
“As a mutual insurer which is closely connected with most of Northern Ireland’s farms we are all too aware to the heartbreak farm accidents cause an set up the awards to show what can be done to make farm yards safer and reward farmers who really gone the extra mile to make their farms safe.”