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    Harper Adams alumna and academic celebrate at Northern Farmer Awards 2024

    Posted 26 February

    Alumna Annie Stones was named winner of the Women in Agriculture award

    A sheep expert from Harper Adams University has taken part in this year’s Northern Farmer Awards as a judge – with an alumna of the University also being named a winner at the awards.

    Lecturer in Animal Production and Health Nicky Naylor judged and presented the Sheep Farmer of the Year 2024 award at the Northern Farmer ceremony, which was held at the Great Yorkshire Showground near Harrogate.

    This year, Harper Adams sponsored the Sheep Farmer of the Year award, with Nicky taking part in both the judging of the award in January and attending the awards themselves on Thursday, February 22.

    The award went to Simon Stott, of Laund Farm near Preston, who was later also announced as the overall Northern Farmer of the Year winner.

    Simon’s Forest of Bowland based farm supports 500 dairy ewes, 1,000 Swaledale and Blue Faced Leicester ewes, and 40 head of suckler cows across its 500 acres.

    Simon, who milks 400 Friesland ewes each day, has built a sheep milk enterprise over the past decade.

    Nicky said: “Simon was a very worthy winner. He stood out for a few reasons - his awareness of the consumer needs and product quality of his sheep milk, his commitment to environmental sustainability - and his investment in sheep genetics, future-proofing his business for the years to come. 

    “As a sheep enthusiast myself, it was an honour to present the Sheep Farmer Award to someone who was so humbled to have been chosen.

    “He was thrilled to have won Sheep Farmer of the Year and was absolutely blown away with being the recipient of the overall farmer award.

    “It was lovely to chat with him and his family afterwards and discuss his business and hopefully I will get to visit his farm one day - he's even welcomed us to bring some students along!”

    Meanwhile Harper graduate Annie Stones was named as the winner of the Women in Agriculture award.

    Since graduating from her BSc (Hons) Animal Production Science degree at Harper Adams in 2021, Annie has worked as a full-time animal feed firm nutrition adviser.

    She is chairwoman of YFC Reeth and a fifth-generation beef and sheep farmer with a passion for showing sheep.

    Speaking after the awards, she said: “Just getting nominated for two awards was amazing, to then get shortlisted to a finalist was unexpected - but then to actually go on and win the award against two completely deserving women was a complete honour!

    “When I heard them say my name, my legs went like jelly and I was just trying to focus on walking up to the stage. I’m not sure how to put in to words what it means to me, because it hasn’t fully sunk in yet- just so overwhelmed, but massively privileged to have won!”

    Harper Adams University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan said: “We were delighted to support this year’s Northern Farmer award via our sponsorship of the Sheep Award, and congratulations to Simon – who was clearly a very worthy winner.

    “Congratulations, as well, to Harper alumna Annie for her Women in Agriculture award, and to all those who took part in the event – and thank you to Nicky for her work as judge, too!”

    Northern Farmer Editor Hannah Chapman closed the awards by saying: "A huge thank you to all our wonderful sponsors for their support, and congratulations to all our finalists and winners.

    “It is a true privilege to be able to shine a light on the many achievements of our hardworking, passionate farming community, and celebrate what they do day in, day out, in all weathers, to put food on our plates."

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