FARMERS sowing seeds of success have reaped the rewards of their hard work and dedication to British agriculture during the sixth annual Northern Farmer Awards.

More than 400 leading industry professionals from across the North of England attended a glittering ceremony, once again sponsored by Mole Country Stores, to toast exceptional individuals and generations of farming families across ten categories.

The prize-giving ceremony, hosted at the Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Thursday, rewarded innovation and talent ensuring agricultural business continues to grow.

A judging panel for The Northern Farmer publication – sister title to The Northern Echo – 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, Cumbria.

Former BBC Look North presenter Wendy Gibson hosted the event and described Mr Knowles as a “true inspiration” who diversified from dairy with just four ducks to a flock of hundreds producing free-range eggs.

The Northern Echo:

Upon accepting his award, Mr Knowles thanked his partner, Hannah Storton, and said: “If you get an opportunity, just go for it.

"Don’t let anything pass you by – work as hard as you can and it’ll pay off. Don’t give up.”

A new award for 2019 was presented to Susan Aglionby, of Susan’s Farm, near Carlisle, Cumbria – earning the Special Award for Care in the Farming Community.

Alongside her daughter, Julia, the Aglionby’s accepted the award from last year’s Northern Farmer of the Year, Denys Fell, honouring their work to make children feel at home in the countryside.

The Northern Echo:

The Beef Farmer of the Year accolade went to Will and Sophie Chrystal, of Wingate Grange Farm, County Durham, who were congratulated on their family ethos on their farm.

The Northern Echo:

Stephen Craggs, of East Close Farm, Sedgefield, scooped the Arable Farmer of the Year Award, with Kevin Buckle, of Buckles Farm, Kirkby Stephen, named Sheep Farmer of the Year.

Dairy Farmers of the Year were Edward and Victoria Goodall, of Beech Grove Farm, Leeds, while John and Ed Campbell celebrated their Family-run Farm of the Year Award for their work at Roseborough Farm, in Alnwick.

Matt Bagley, head of farms at Askam Bryan College’s Newton Rigg site, earned the Outstanding Achievement Award, with John Wildman returning to Glenkiln Farms, in Dumfries, with the Farm Manager of the Year Award.

Grace and Nigel Liddle, of Compton Grove Farm, in West Yorkshire, received the Diversification Award of the Year and are only the second winners of the accolade since its introduction last year.

David Philpotts, of principle sponsors Mole Country Stores, said: “Twelve months have passed and the to-and-fro of Brexit negotiations continues – we still have no clear view on the immediate and long-term impact on our agricultural industry.

The Northern Echo:

“The was the opening lines to my speech last year, but nothing seems to have changed in politics.

“But you can be reassured, that when we sense more certainty around the likely impact of either leaving or extending the European market, we will do everything possible to continue providing support for farmer-owned business.

“The Northern Farmer Awards provides a perfect platform to share excellence in farming across the North of England. Mole Country Stores is very proud to continue sponsorship of these awards in 2019.

“I must add, on behalf of the judging panel, that the standard of entries continue to improve year-on-year and it makes the judging process extremely difficult.”

Generous guests also donated more than £1,750 over the course of the evening which will be donated to the Freddie’s Fight campaign.

The Thompson family, who live in Ampleforth with connections to Thirsk and Kilburn, are try to raise enough money to take their toddler to America for potentially life-saving cancer treatment.

A spokesman for the Freddie’s Fight campaign said: “The kindness of everyone from our local community and the farming community has been completely overwhelming and we thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts.”

To donate to the campaign, visit the Freddie’s Fight Facebook page.