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.
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.
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