A CARLISLE mother-and-daughter were surprised with a top farming honour as a reward for their dedication to helping young people feel at home in the countryside.

Susan Aglionby, who farms the 36-acre former Gosling Sike Farm, renamed Susan's Farm, and daughter Julia from Wallacefield Farm, near Armathwaite, expressed their delight when they accepted the Special Award for Care in the Farming Community during the sixth annual Northern Farmer Awards.

More than 400 leading industry professionals from across the North of England attended the prize-giving ceremony hosted at the Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground, to toast exceptional individuals and generations of farming families across ten categories.

Susan has promoted organic farming for many years, and has been the driving force behind a number of Farmers Markets in the county.

As well as rearing cattle, sheep, geese, and a few hens along organic lines, Susan also runs education tours around the farm for schoolchildren from local nursery, primary and secondary schools.

She also welcomes frequent visits from schools catering for children with disabilities and special needs and pupils from a referral unit, as well as groups of elderly folk.

Thousands of visitors each year visit Susan's Farm which she donated to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust several years ago. Susan also takes part in the annual Open Farm Sunday to let people discover how food is grown and produced.

At daughter Julia's farm, the two have visits each week from a group of long-term mentally ill people.

On receiving the award from last year's Northern Farmer of the Year, Denys Fell, Julia said: "This award really goes to mum for her unfailing enthusiasm towards teaching young people of all matters relating to agriculture." Susan added: "This is a huge surprise, but we are honoured to receive this award. I am fortunate to be a farmer in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and to share all matters relating to Cumbrian agriculture with young people."

A judging panel for The Northern Farmer publication - part of Newsquest Cumbria which publishes The Cumberland News - submitted votes in secret to crown Henry Knowles as the overall Northern Farmer of the Year 2019 for his dedication to inspiring the next generation. Mr Knowles collected the biggest award of the night after already receiving the Young Farmer of the Year Award for his work on the Myers Farm, in Kendal.

Former BBC Look North presenter Wendy Gibson hosted the event, which saw other Cumbrians scoop top prizes.

Kevin Buckle, of Buckles Farm, Kirkby Stephen, was named Sheep Farmer of the Year. while Matt Bagley, head of farms at Askam Bryan College’s Newton Rigg site, earned the Outstanding Achievement Award,