UK’s first Women in Agriculture Awards celebrates winners

The first-ever National Women in Agriculture Awards – a spectacular black-tie event held at the House of Commons – has honoured some very special women and organisations for their substantial work within the agricultural industry.

More than 160 attendees came to the Palace of Westminster on 9 May to attend the new awards ceremony, which aims to recognise and reward women in agriculture for the valuable contribution that they have made to the sector.

Nominations and applications were submitted in 12 categories, covering a broad range of areas where women are making their mark, before a panel of nine industry expert judges carefully considered each application.

See also: New awards to celebrate women in agriculture


Agricultural Influencer of the Year Award and Farming Woman of the Year Award – Abi Reader

NFU Cymru deputy president Abi Reader, of Goldsland Farm in Glamorgan, was a double award winner on the night, being named Agricultural Influencer of the Year and Farming Woman of the Year.

She was praised for her vlog of her experiences of TB and the way she helped communicate the devastating effect of the disease to a wide audience, and for her campaigning spirit – which she uses to amplify farming voices in her native Wales and beyond.

Collecting her award, Abi said: “It is always amazing when you are recognised by your peers.

“It’s a reminder of how amazing this industry is – because it really is – and of all the great things that everybody can achieve when you just strive for it.”

Asked how she was going to celebrate, Abi said: “In typical farmer style we are on silage, and there’s a lot of NFU work to be done, so just keep going and enjoying and loving everything that I do throughout this industry – because I do just love it.”

Sustainability Champion of the Year Award – Olivia Shave

The Sustainability Champion award went to Olivia Shave for her dedication to low-impact farming.

A passionate custodian of the land, Olivia’s business, EcoEwe, makes use of every part of the animal, producing rugs and jumpers with zero waste.

“I’m completely gobsmacked and overwhelmed, but obviously very, very proud,” Olivia said.

“To sit in a room with so many wonderful people who are all deserving of it, to hear the category read out and what we are all doing for the industry – it is an absolute privilege to be here.

“Personally, this means that all my years of work, and my passion, the hours that have gone into it, the thought processes, it has just paid off. To a small business like mine, it is life-changing,” she said.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Minette Batters

Former NFU president Minette Batters was given a bit of a shock – and the Lifetime Achievement Award, which she collected to a standing ovation and lengthy applause.

Minette told Farmers Weekly that collecting the award was a “complete surprise”.

“I didn’t see it coming, so it’s just an enormous privilege, it really is, and a shock,” she said.

“[This award] is not for me personally. It is for all the women I have represented.

“The NFU represents 46,000 farming businesses across England and Wales and I would very much dedicate this to all of them, because that has been my privilege and my job for the past 10 years.

“It is wonderful to celebrate women in agriculture, and I applaud the team here for what this means to everybody across the country.”

Former NFU president Minette Batters collects an award

Former NFU president Minette Batters collected the Lifetime Achievement Award

Business of the Year – Pinstone

The Business of the Year Award went to Pinstone, a PR and marketing business serving the food, farming and environment sector. The business is led by women and has a largely female staff.

Founder and managing director Catherine Lynch accepted the award. She said: “It’s not for me, it’s for my team. We’ve got a women-led board, and this is recognition of a lot of blood, sweat and tears over a lot of years.”

Asked how she plans to celebrate, Catherine said: “With my colleague who is here tonight, and other people in the industry – and we’ll go back to the team and I’m sure we’ll have a celebration back in Herefordshire too.”

Judging panel

The awards were judged by a panel of female food and farming leaders, and chaired by agricultural journalist Chloe Ryan.

The panel members were selected for their thorough industry involvement and knowledge. It featured Tonia Antoniazzi MP, a prominent supporter of food and farming.

Judith Batchelar, director at Food Matters International, said that one of the highlights of the judging process had been seeing the quality of the applications and nominations.

“I say this because people were nominated for these awards by the people they work with, and there is no greater accolade than your peers recommending you for something,” she explained.

“But, it is also a real moment of reassurance for human nature, when you read the things that people have said about other people.

“It really is generous, it is kind, appreciative, and full of admiration. Those applications were lovely to read.

“Tonight we are celebrating women who are not just surviving but thriving, and for me the biggest thing about that is they are trailblazers, they are pioneers, they are women who are innovating.

“They are aiming high, they are thinking big, and they are successful.”

Sarah Millar of Quality Meat Scotland collecting an award

Quality Meat Scotland’s Sarah Millar collecting the Trade Organisation Woman of the Year award

Categories and winners

Sustainability Champion of the Year – sponsored by HSBC UK

Olivia Shave, EcoEwe

Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by Co-op

Minette Batters

Farming Woman of the Year – sponsored by Nestle UK & Ireland

Abi Reader MBE

Supply Chain Woman of the Year – sponsored by Goodyear Farm Tires

Julie Eccleston

Rising Star of the Year – sponsored by Morrisons

Eleanor Gilbert, Berkshire Farm Girl

Agricultural Influencer of the Year – sponsored by Noble Foods

Abi Reader MBE

Agricultural Adviser of the Year

Ruth ML Farrell

Employer of the Year

Poultry Health Services

Innovator of the Year – sponsored by Dunbia

Dr Jenna Ross OBE, Crop Health and Protection

Training and Education Woman of the Year – sponsored by First Milk

Kay Helyar, the DPJ Foundation

Trade Organisation Woman of the Year

Sarah Millar, Quality Meat Scotland

Business of the Year


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