THE inaugural Cumbria Farmer Awards 2021 has received widespread praise from the farming community.

Hailed as one of the best nights out in the county's farming calendar, around 220 farmers, industry professionals and local dignitaries attended the awards which were held at The Greenhill Hotel, near Wigton.

Organised by Newsquest Cumbria, in partnership with Armstrong Watson, Accountants, Business and Financial Advisors, the 12 categories, including four Judges Special Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrated the diversity and dedication of Cumbria’s farming sector.

The glittering ceremony was hosted by John Wharton, farmer and livestock manager and auctioneer at Mitchell's Auction Mart in Cockermouth. “This was a real celebration and a wonderful showcase for rural Cumbria,” said John.

Prince Charles is widely recognised as one of Cumbria’s greatest champions, celebrating the county’s remarkable people and places. During the awards he was congratulated and thanked by Lakes farmer, Joe Relph, for the high-profile work he has done, as he was presented with a Special Recognition Award from the Cumbrian farming community.

In a video message, Prince Charles told the audience he was honoured by the recognition, and said how much he looked forward to his annual visits to the Lakes and how he revelled in stretching his legs on the fells after a busy day of engagements across Cumberland..

The prince also highlighted how he was patron of two organisations based in Cumbria – the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association and the Foundation for Common Land.

“I have done what I can to encourage wider awareness of the dedicated effort over the centuries that has contributed to the upland landscapes which are valued by so many millions of visitors today.

“I worry greatly about the uncertain times that lie ahead. Yet, I remain hopeful that farmers in Cumbria have the skills, adaptability, and commitment to the land to address effectively both the biodiversity and climate crises affecting our planet, and to continue to produce high-quality food within this most spectacular landscape.”

Head judge and partner and head of agriculture and farming at Armstrong Watson, Andrew Robinson, said: “It gave us real pride to see the wide range of successful farming and food businesses we have in Cumbria.”

Cumbrian artist and illustrator Lynn Bates designed a Herdwick Ram’s head which proudly sits on each of the glass trophies, and was also part of the Special Recognition Award, made by Honister Slate Mine at Keswick, and presented to HRH the Prince of Wales by the Cumbrian farming community.

Emma Blamire, 25, who lives on her family’s farm at Thursby, near Carlisle, picked up the Agricultural Student/ Rural Skills Award. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to the judges, to The Cumberland News for organising the awards, and to whoever nominated me. It was a lovely surprise.”

CUMBRIA FARMER ROLL OF HONOUR 2021: Against All Odds: Growing Well. Agricultural Student/Rural Skills award: Emma Blamire. Contractor of the year: A.J Rickerby Contracting. Dairy farmer of the year: Tom Dent. Diversification of the year: Dodgson Wood. Farming champion: Will Cockbain. Food retailer of the year: Low Sizergh Farm and Barn. Land and environment award: Tim Winder. Livestock farmer of the year: James Duerden. Supplier of the year: Aspatria Farmers. Tenant farmer of the year: Dan Simpson & Ruby Cappleman. Young Farmers’ Club of the year: Drigg YFC. Lifetime achievement: Will Rawling. Judges’ special awards: The Graham Family (Millerhill Farm), Sian Jordan, Pat Turnbull. Farmers’ choice award: Julie Brough.