North Northumberland farmer receives Lifetime Achievement Award at expo

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A north Northumberland man has been recognised for his significant contribution to farming in the area over many years.

George Neill is the 2023 recipient of the David Thomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award. He was presented with his accolade at the Borderway Agri Expo in Carlisle by David McCrea on behalf of Sheila Thomlinson, David Thomlinson’s wife, who was in hospital.

The prestigious award was launched by Harrison & Hetherington in 2021 to recognise commitment, success, and accomplishment within the livestock farming industry, following David Thomlinson’s sad and untimely death as a consequence of a tragic accident on his farm.

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George grew up on the 750-acre tenanted Thornington Farm, near Mindrum. The Neill family farming enterprise flourished, with two neighbouring tenancies secured to allow George and his two brothers to follow in their father’s footsteps.

George Neill receives his award from David McCrea.George Neill receives his award from David McCrea.
George Neill receives his award from David McCrea.

Over the past 50 years, George has built the family farming business at Thornington Farm into one of the few major dairying success stories in the region.

With three sons of his own, he has also followed his father’s lead and acquired two more farms to enable all three sons to continue the family tradition in a mixed livestock farming business centred on the 320 British Friesian dairy herd now managed by his son Tom, a 300-head Limousin-cross beef enterprise run by son Robert, and a 1,800 sheep enterprise run by David Neill at nearby Downham Farm.

Together, the R Neill & Sons farming enterprises today extend to over 1,500 acres of owned land and a further 1,150 acres rented for grazing and self-sufficient feed production.

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Mrs Thomlinson said: “Throughout his career, George Neill has set the highest standards in livestock farming and agri-business development, in every aspect of his contribution to the organisations he has served and led, and to his local community.”

Despite his recent retirement to Kelso, George and his wife Mary still like to know what is going on at the farms and he can still be regularly found at marts in Northumberland discussing the price of livestock.

George, who also found time to develop a much sought-after expertise in valuation consultancy over the years, said: “I am really honoured to be recognised and to receive the David Thomlinson Lifetime Achievement Award, and I never thought I was worthy enough to receive something of this calibre.”

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