A YOUNG farmer from Stourport says he was completely surprised after winning a farming award for his work with vulnerable people.

Michael Pratt, aged 27, received the Young Farmer award at the inaugural Three Counties Farmer Farming Awards, held at Three Counties Showground in Malvern.

The award-winning farmer was recognised for his involvement in the Leapgate Activity Centre, in Wilden, Stourport, a new charity that provides much needed educational and vocational training and support to adults with learning disabilities.

Michael said: "It was a big surprise and a huge honour. I'm so grateful to the people who nominated me.

"It's to be recognised for my day to day work for the centre.

"I'm not the type of person who likes the limelight. I really couldn't believe it when I heard."

"Leapgate is a proper working farm with over 200 cattle, as well as sheep.

"One day, we thought of something we could we do to make a change, and had the idea of converting some of the old farm buildings.

"We turned the milking parlour into a cafe, and we are in the process of turning a building into an activity centre.

Michael says that his inspiration for this change was his cousin Martin Jones, who has autism.

He said: "My cousin Martin was a main inspiration for the idea. He is a big part of my life."

"It's about combining animal work and other vocational skills together."

The farm currently has a cafe, an arts and crafts facility and woodwork facility, and also hosts a farm group.

Sports England have also provided the farm with a grant, and Michael hopes to hold sports camps on the farm.

Michael added: "This is just the start. It's all about getting the farm's name and what we are doing out there."

The awards were organised by Newsquest - publisher of the Kidderminster Shuttle as well as the Redditch Advertiser, Bromsgrove Advertiser, Hereford Times, Worcester News and Three Counties Farmer.

Supported by Harper Adams University and sponsored by a number of local businesses including mfg solicitors, the awards raised money for the Addington Fund, which helps find homes for families who have had to leave the industry.

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.”

Guest speaker was none other than Minette Batters, president of the NFU, who used her speech to show 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.”