THE inaugural Cumbria Farmer Awards were due to be celebrated early in the New Year.

But the worsening situation around Covid-19 has forced us to postpone the Awards Night until May 14 2021.

It is a decision which has been taken with great regret, but after consultation with our many sponsors and those involved with the awards, it was agreed that the safety and health of awards attendees is paramount.Vanessa Sims, Newsquest Cumbria’s regional group editor said: “This decision was not taken lightly, but we must follow the Government’s strict Covid-19 rules. But the 2021 Cumbria Farmer Awards, which will bring together some of the county’s outstanding farmers and food producers, along with leading figures in the industry, are not cancelled and still need to be celebrated.”

Entries for the 12 categories are now closed with the judges final decision expected early in the New Year.

The search to find farming’s unsung heroes is organised in partnership with Carlisle-based business advisers and accountants Armstrong Watson, who are also sponsoring a further category, the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the drinks reception.

Our expert judging panel is headed by Andrew Robinson, partner and head of agriculture and farming at Armstrong Watson, and also includes Alistair Mackintosh, chairman of Red Tractor Assurance; Ian Bowness, NFU Cumbrian County Chairman; Michael Peile, Agricultural Partner at David Allen; Julia Aglionby, Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land; Lois Mansfield, Professor at Ambleside Campus; Sharon Sloan, Lely Center Longtown general manager; Robert Craig, Nuffield Scholar; Heather Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Manager at H&H and Adam Day, Managing Director of Farmer Network.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards dinner at the Greenhill Hotel, Wigton on Friday, May 14 2021, when host will be John Wharton, Cumbrian farmer and Livestock Manager and Auctioneer at Mitchell's Auction Mart in Cockermouth, and past Cumberland Show chairman, sponsored by David Allen Accountants at Dalston, who is also sponsoring Young Farmers' Club of the Year. Entertainment will be provided by the popular Cumbrian band, Soul Survivors.

Other category sponsors: Contractor of the Year and Dairy Farmer of the Year, Carlisle-based Carrs Billington; Farming Champion, National Farmers Union (NFU); Land and Environmental Award, University of Cumbria; Against All Odds, Lely Center of Longtown; Livestock Farmer of the Year, Carlisle-based H&H Group; Agricultural Student or Rural Skills Award, Red Tractor Assurance; Tenant Farmer of the Year, National Trust Cumbria.