28 December 2001
Anthony Gibson Farm Personality

By John Burns, south-west England correspondent

ANTHONY Gibsons no-nonsense commitment to helping farmers during foot-and-mouth made him Farmers Weekly Personality of the Year.

During the grim days at the height of foot-and-mouth, television appearances by Barbour-clad Mr Gibson quickly became required viewing.

Twice-daily broadcasts by the man voted Personality of the Year were the focal point for West Country farmers and many non-farmers too.

Conveying calmness and reassurance, the National Farmers Union south-west director often seemed better-briefed than government officials.

He anticipated and shared public anger at their inability to cope with the worst foot-and-mouth outbreak the world has seen.

And he pulled no punches when he felt ministers needed punching.

Mr Gibsons decisions to put his own interpretation on events rather than toe the official NFU line were snapped up by news-hungry reporters.

His apparently effortless fluency in front of the camera and ever-ready sound-bites were the result of daily briefings with his regional NFU team.

The aim was to get the latest facts and translate them into terms understandable by farmers and public alike.

“They all put in a huge amount of work every day, said Mr Gibson.

We had a policy of nothing is too much trouble and never to say no comment, and we never refused to talk to local and regional media.

Mr Gibson has also won awards from Devon County Agricultural Association, and the Royal Bath and West of England Society.