THE “huge amount of effort and passion” needed to make farming a success shone through as some of the region’s outstanding farmers received accolades for their work at the inaugural Three Counties Farmer Farming Awards last night.

Those shortlisted were joined by colleagues, family and friends and other farming figures, including National Farmers Union leader Minette Batters, in the members’ tent at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, on the eve of the Royal Three Counties Show.

Outside in the rain farmers were settling their show-ready livestock and would remain with them through the night, even sleeping with their animals.

It’s this hard work and dedication, that often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, that prompted the awards.

As awards organiser Newsquest’s Sue Griffiths said in her opening remarks, it is “high time recognition was given to our unsung heroes in the Three Counties.”

And Minette Batters, the evening’s guest speaker, showed her faith in Britain’s farmers.

She said she believed agriculture could achieve net zero, with climate change the “challenge of our time.”

She added: “Tonight is about celebrating British farming and celebrating achievements. There are some big businesses in the room and there are some smaller ones. That’s the strength of our industry and what we want to maintain.”

The awards presentation saw rapturous applause for the winners.

Collecting the top award for Outstanding Achievement were husband and wife Anthony and Christine Snell, soft fruit producers at Windmill Hill, Harewood End, Herefordshire, who also won the Fruit/Hop Farmer award.

Categories were announced by journalist Rob Stokes, with Gamber Logistics based at Grafton, Herefordshire, first up to receive the Farming Contractor award.

The Family Run Farm of the Year went to PG and CP Whitehouse at Bradley Farm, Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire. Boddington Estates, near Cheltenham, won Arable Farmer of the Year and the Sustainable and Diversification award went to Two Farmers Crisps’ Mark Green and Sean Mason from Herefordshire.

Mark collected a second award for the Green family firm, Court Farm Chickens at Much Birch, Herefordshire, which won Poultry Farmer of the Year.

The Young Farmer award went to Michael Pratt for his work with vulnerable people at Leapgate Activity Centre in Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire.

Sheep farmer of the Year went to AE and V Albutt and Sons at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, the Cattle Farmer of the Year award was presented to HW Smith and Sons at Ledbury, and the Farming Hero award was presented to Margaret Herbert, a volunteer with the Farming Community Network for more than 10 years.