THE inaugural Cumbria Farmer Awards will be judged by a panel of respected experts from a wide spectrum of backgrounds.

Headed by Andrew Robinson, partner and head of agriculture and farming at Carlisle-based business advisers and accountants Armstrong Watson, our headline sponsors, who are also sponsoring a further category, the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the drinks reception.

Andrew will be partnered in the search to find farming’s unsung heroes, by Alistair Mackintosh, west Cumbrian beef and sheep farmer and chairman of Red Tractor Assurance, as well as the National Farmers Union Cumbrian council delegate; Ian Bowness, Aspatria dairy farmer and NFU county chairman’; Agricultural Partner at David Allen Accountants in Dalston, Michael Peile; Julia Aglionby, Armathwaite farmer and Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land; Lois Mansfield, Professor of Upland Landscapes, and Director of Ambleside Campus; Sharon Sloan, Lely Center Longtown general manager; Robert Craig, Nuffield Scholar and Armathwaite dairy farmer; Heather Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Manager at H&H, based in Carlisle and Adam Day, Managing Director of The Farmer Network, based in Penrith.

Our host for the evening is John Wharton, Cumbrian farmer and Livestock Manager and Auctioneer at Mitchell’s Auction Mart in Cockermouth and former Cumberland Show chairman for two years, who is sponsored by David Allen Accountants at Dalston.

Cumbria Farmer Awards 2021 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.”

Cumbria Farmer Awards 2021will celebrate the innovative, determined and extraordinary farmers across all sectors,They will showcase the diversity and adaptability of the Cumbrian farming community.

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

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards dinner at the Greenhill Hotel, Wigton on Friday, May 14 2021 when entertainment will be provided by the popular Cumbrian band, the Soul Survivors.

“We are very excited to be holding the inaugural Cumbria farmers awards 2021,” said manager, Malcolm Scott.

The Greenhill hotel was built in 1804 as a private residence. Now family owned and run by Wayne & Kaye Jackson. This well known Cumbrian landmark is one of the counties favourite places to eat, drink and sleep. They have 12 guestrooms and a number of areas for dining, from cosy candlelight for two, birthday, anniversary, baby shower, christening and Christmas celebrations….and of course weddings.

Alongside farming’s core sectors – dairy, beef, sheep and machinery – there is also a celebration of talented youngsters coming into the industry and a reminder of the contribution rural businesses are making to the county’s tourism, textile, wedding, retail and wildlife sectors, to name just a few.

Vanessa Sims added: “With so much change and uncertainty characterising the current era of agriculture, the Cumbria Farmer Awards are a timely celebration of all that is best in the Cumbrian countryside - the drive and creativity that underpins the county’s economic and social life.”

Andrew Robinson said: “When I heard about the opportunity to partner with Newsquest and bring to the county new awards for the farming and agriculture sector, it was important that Armstrong Watson was the first to put their hands up and support the initiative by becoming the lead sponsor,” said Andrew, a farmer’s son, born and bred on a large hill farm in north Cumbria.

“Farming is going through significant change, and, as a firm of accountants and business and financial advisers, we know only too well how important the sector is. Having something that truly celebrates all the work within this sector in light of current challenges is a good thing. We are proud to help fly the flag for UK farming. To have such an event that celebrates and recognises all the hard work from the people, the communities they serve and the passion they have hits the heart of what we do.”

Stephen McCullough, Armstrong Watson business development and marketing director, added: “Partnering with Newsquest is a perfect fit for our business, and as the long-term main sponsor of Farmer titles across the county I knew we had to support the awards.”

Other category sponsors are Dalston accountants, David Allen, who is sponsoring the Young Farmers’ Club of the Year award, and supporting the host on the night. “We are proud to be supporting these awards that will highlight all the hard work and successes of our farmers,” said David Allen.

Contractor of the Year and Dairy Farmer of the Year are sponsored by Carlisle-based Carrs Billington. The animal feed, agricultural supplies and machinery business has a long association with the rural communities it serves. Managing director Mark Cole said: “We are committed to supporting our farmers, so are well aware of the hard work, talent and innovation across the whole sector.”

The Farming Champion category is sponsored by the National Farmers Union (NFU). NFU Cumbria county chairman Ian Bowness said: “Celebrating our Cumbrian farming champions is more important now than at any other time in recent farming history.”

The Land and Environmental Award is sponsored by the University of Cumbria. Professor of Upland Landscapes, and Director of Ambleside Campus, Lois Mansfield, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Land and Environmental Award, supporting what is a critical element of our county’s economy and society, which has shaped the landscape we all cherish.”

The Against All Odds category sponsored by Lely Center of Longtown. A statement said: “Having spent the last 10 years in business helping farmers to develop their businesses through automation, we are thrilled to sponsor Against All Odds designed to identify and reward others who have successfully embraced innovation and demonstrated that sheer determination to succeed.”

Other sponsors include 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.