Brecon Farmers Richard & Helen Roderick win Prestigious National Farming & Conservation Award

A Welsh farming family have been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for their outstanding efforts to promote good habitat and environmental management on their farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Richard and Helen Roderick of Newton Farm, Brecon, received the highly-coveted ‘Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award,’ now in its 39th year. The award, generously sponsored by the Waitrose Farming Partnership, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Richard and Helen were chosen from a national shortlist of six farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside the production of high quality food.

The 2016 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Richard and Helen Roderick on Thursday 7th July by Philip Merricks, MBE and Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Frozen Food and Dairy, and Agriculture, at a ceremony hosted by Annie Brown, the 2015 Silver Lapwing recipient, at her farm in West Sussex.

Upon receiving the award, Richard said, “It is an honour to win the Silver Lapwing Award. We live in a beautiful part of Wales, in the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park and our vision is for Newton Farm to be a profitable mixed farm, which maximises the use of its own resources, while increasing biodiversity and conserving the wildlife and historical features. We are very proud of the recognition this award brings to Wales reflecting the huge amount of positive environmental work carried out on family farms across the country alongside growing some of the best quality, naturally reared lamb and beef in the world.”

After thanking the sponsors and judges, who make the Silver Lapwing possible, Richard added, “The work undertaken by FWAG and FWAG Cymru will become even more essential over the coming months and years as both Government and farmers rely on their expert advice to help navigate the post Brexit changes that will no doubt affect all farming businesses. Helen and I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and the wonderful tour of Annie Brown’s farm and we smiled all the way home to Brecon. Thank you.”

On presenting the award Martin Hole, FWAG Silver Lapwing Award Judge, recalled a moment from the judging tour, explaining why Richard and Helen made such a deserving winners, “Standing in the earthworks of an Iron Age fort on the top of the hill above Newton Farm we were treated to an inspiring vista. Behind us grazed a small herd of highland cows browsing the grassland recently cleared of scrub. Through beautifully preserved woodland with dramatic specimen trees we could see the Rodericks’ carefully managed patchwork of small fields, all double fenced and with beautifully managed hedgerows, with water courses also protected by fences. In this landscape their flock thrive along with their imaginative grass and fodder mixes. The stock quality was outstanding. Below these fields ran the jaunty Usk, by which an old WW2 bunker had been converted into a bat hibernaculum, and the banks of which had been cleverly protected with willow to reduce erosion. The view had a touch of Eden about it, so complete was the engagement of Richard and Helen to this lovely Welsh hillside.”

Presenting the award, Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of MPFFD and Agriculture said, “This is an important event for British farming that showcases the very best in environmentally sensitive farming. What is especially wonderful is the focus on how good environmental stewardship can sit right at the heart of a commercially savvy business plan. This year we are especially proud that the winner is one of our dedicated Welsh lamb farmers, so a hearty congratulations to Richard, Helen and family for their well deserved win and a massive well done to all the runners up and entrants.”

Chris Butler, Chairman of the FWAG Association, added, “The prestigious FWAG Silver Lapwing National Award, now in its 39th year, has been won by Richard and Helen Roderick of Newton Farm. Through their passion, dedication and use of independent advice, they have a very successful commercial farm whilst protecting natural resources and producing a whole farm environment that is rich in wildlife. We hope that the example shown by Richard and Helen will inspire other farmers to achieve great things for wildlife on their farms.”