Innovative farming duo are recognised at awards event

Mick Spears
Mick Spears

Two innovative members of the north Northumberland farming community were recognised for their outstanding achievements within regional agriculture at a prestigious awards night.

Jamie Wood, from Prendwick Farm, near Alnwick, and Mick Spears, of New Heaton Farm, Cornhill, were finalists in the fourth annual Northern Farmer Awards.

Jamie Wood

Jamie Wood

The glamorous ceremony was enjoyed by more than 400 leading industry professionals from across the North of England, including 29 finalists and 10 category winners.

The prize-giving was held in Harrogate last month with 37 tables full of generations of farming families and specialist suppliers.

Mr Wood was a finalist in the Sheep Farmer of the Year category, which was won by Clive Metcalf, of Park House Farm, Barningham, near Barnard Castle.

Mr Wood helped introduce a new sheep breed into the UK in 2014 and is one of the founding members of the British Swiss Valais Blacknose Sheep Society, of which he is president.

The 2,800-acre family farm also carries 1,600 Scottish Blackface sheep and maintains a 700-strong flock of mule ewes.

He said: “I’m pleased for everyone involved with Prendwick Farm. It was a great honour to be nominated and make the final among such tremendous competition.”

Mr Spears was a finalist in the Farm Manager of The Year category, which was won by John Aynsley, who manages Low House Farm, in Stanghow, near Guisborough.

Mr Spears manages New Heaton Holsteins and in four years the herd has increased from 140 cows averaging 7,000 litres to 400 cows averaging 10,300 litres on an annual-basis.

In 2016, the herd was awarded the Genus ABS Trophy for the Highest Yielding Herd in the North of England and Scotland Region on twice-per-day milking.

He said: “I’m thrilled to be recognised within this category and consider the recognition is a result of a great effort by the New Heaton team.”

As well as winning the Farm Manager of the Year award, Mr Aynsley was named as the overall Northern Farmer of the Year 2017, after a judging panel for The Northern Farmer publication submitted votes in secret.