Traditional turkey producer Tom Copas (pictured right above) of Copas Turkeys has been honoured with the Rupert Chalmers-Watson “Turkey Man of the Year” award, in recognition of his “outstanding contribution and commitment” to the sector.

Mr Copas’s involvement with turkeys dates back to 1957, when his father helped set him up with a new project, producing 153 Christmas birds for local markets and families in the Henley-on-Thames area.

The family business now supplies around 40,000 “very, very special” birds a year, and has recently branched out into free-range chicken production.

Presenting the trophy at the recent British Turkey Awards at the Savoy in London, British Turkey Federation chairman Paul Kelly described Mr Copas as “more than a turkey farmer”.

“He is an entrepreneur that has bought his passion and absolute determination to the industry,” he said. “He built his turkey business by understanding his customers and working to produce one of the best Christmas turkeys available.”

Mr Kelly added that Mr Copas was a huge believer in education and was always involved with industry groups, from Young Farmers to the Worshipful Company of Farmers, “where he is often challenging the way things are done and generally being a pain in the butt!”

In addition to the Rupert Chalmers Award, the night also saw supermarket Aldi pick up Turkey Retailer of the Year for a fourth consecutive time, rewarded for its extensive range of year-round turkey portions.

“All supermarkets that entered showed they stocked a good range of essentials,” said a spokeswoman. “But the independent judging panel felt Asda just pipped the others with their seasonal additions to the range, such as two varieties of sausage and burgers for the barbecue season.”

Asda received its award from TV and radio presenter Stephen Mulhern, and Nicola Compton, chair of the British Turkey Federation’s publicity and marketing committee.

The Best Christmas Traditional Product, for which standard white turkeys may be submitted, was also won by Aldi for its Ashfield Farm Turkey, while Grove Smith English Rose Bronze free-range turkey won the Best Christmas Premium category.

British Turkey Awards winners, 2013

Best Meal Solution – Sainsbury’s Just Cook BBQ turkey thigh with lime and chilli

Best Christmas Convenience Product – Sainsbury’s stock basted turkey breast joint with cranberry, apricot and cherry topping

Best Christmas Traditional Product – Aldi Ashfield Farm medium British turkey

Best Christmas Premium Product – Grove Smith Turkeys English Rose Bronze

Best Innovation – Tesco 4 Chipotle chilli and BBQ turkey burgers

Best Foodservice Product for Cost Sector – The UK Foodhall Ready to Roast turkey breast

Best Foodservice Product for Profit Sector –  Grove Smith English Rose turkey hen crown

Best Ready-to-Eat Product – Sainsbury’s deli counters carvery roast turkey

Best Dietitian Recipe – Angharad Banner for mediterranean turkey gratin

Best Blogger Recipe  –  Lucy Parissi  ultimate turkey burgers with spicy tomato jam

Student Chef of the Year – Sean Nolan, Hertford Regional College for his salad of slow cooked British turkey thigh, turkey lollipop, beetroot and cranberry cream cheese

Daniel Draper, Westminster Kingsway College – stuffed British turkey breast and a turkey thigh baklava served with a sweet potato purée, char grilled green beans and a sherry jus

Foodservice Operator of the Year – Mitchells and Butler for Toby Carveries

Retailer of the Year – Asda

More on this topic

See The Feathered Forager blog for his take on proceedings