feedback

Join Us!

Click here for the many benefits of Guild membership and to find out how to join.

 

Netherthorpe Communicator of the Year

Enquiries?
Jamie Day
01727 836924
Jamie Day

Netherthorpe Award trophyThe Guild's perpetual 'crowing cockerel' trophy, displayed at The Farmers Club, is presented annually to the Member of the Guild who has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to agricultural communications.

It is judged from nominations made by Members who identify someone who has contributed to the dissemination of knowledge and understanding about agriculture in its widest sense, over a number of years. 

This can have been by the written word or through editing, by production or presentation on radio and television. It is open to press and public relations members of the Guild, as well as journalists, editors and photographers.

Nominations deadline: August 24, 2017

Nomination form (Word docx)

Nomination form (Word doc)

Past winners
1978 Leonard Moxon
1979 John Cherrington
1980 Anthony Parkin
1981 Godfrey Brown
1982 Edwin Gillanders
1983 Peter Bell
1984 Denis Chamberlain
1985 Stuart Seaton
1986 Allan Wright
1987 Diane Montague
1988 Ian Morrison
1989 David Richardson
1990 Derek Fraser
1991 Marcus Oliver
1992 Arthur Anderson
1993 George Thompson
1994 Gerald Henderson
1995 Harry Hope
1996 David Brown
1997 Ann Rogers
1998 Ray Vale
1999 Kenneth Bowe
2000 Derek Watson
2001 David Lloyd
2002 Fordyce Maxwell
2003 David Richardson
2004 Debbie Beaton
2005 Stephen Howe
2006 Guy Smith
2007 Don Gomery
2008 Bill Howatson
2009 Ken Rundle
2010 Ross Muir
2011 Howard Walsh
2012 Andrew Arbuckle and David Cousins
2013 Ken Fletcher
2014 Steve Mitchell
2015 Dei Tomos
2016 Peter Hollinshead

Winners

2016

Peter Hollinshead, the winner of the Guild's Netherthorpe Award in 2016, has spent most of his working life as an agricultural journalist and, as his nominee highlighted, during that time has earned a reputation as a skilled and tenacious operator with an incisive line of questioning and an ability to place his interviewees under the closest scrutiny in the most good-humoured way.

BGAJ Netherthorpe 2016 - Peter Hollinshead (r)Peter Hollinshead (right) receives the Netherthorpe 'crowing cockerel' trophy from Darren Jones of 2016 Harvest Lunch main sponsor ABP UK. Photo: Ruth Downing / Rural Pictures.

He invariably asks the question you wish you had asked, has an unerring ability to get straight to the heart of the issue and no stone is left unturned in his quest for the story. The resulting articles can be relied upon to be impartial, accurate, challenging, pertinent and up-to-date.

Peter began his career as a production assistant with Livestock Farming before climbing the ranks to become the magazine's editor. He then moved on to the newly launched Farming News – being plucked from obscurity by former colleague Marcus Oliver, as Peter described it in his acceptance speech – being appointed technical editor, then deputy editor.

He became editor of Dairy Farmer in 2002 and in that role has shown himself to be an innovator and risk-taker, launching the renowned ‘Speakers Corner’ live discussion forum at the Livestock Event before moving it to the Bath & West Dairy Show, where it draws large crowds of participants and attracts leading opinion-formers. It is often the place where major dairy industry news items are broken and, as the forum’s chairman, Peter maintains the pace of discussion, keeps his speakers on track and presses them for an answer if a question is evaded.

Peter is also generous with his time and considered with his opinions. Every year he speaks to undergraduates at the Royal Agricultural University, offering inspiration and guidance to potentially the next generation of agricultural journalists.

Through the Netherthorpe Award, the Guild is delighted that Peter is receiving due recognition for his qualities and his contribution to agricultural communications.

2015

Dei Tomas (right) receives the 2015 Netherthorpe Award from Professor Matt Lobley

Dei Tomos (right) is presented with the 2015 Netherthorpe Award by Professor Matt Lobley. [Photo: Ruth Downing]

The 2015 recipient of the Netherthorpe Award has been the voice of farming news in Wales for more than 30 years.

Dei Tomos is an acclaimed broadcaster and journalist, who has never lost his zest for rooting out the ‘real’ story behind the spin.

He is an acknowledged authority on Welsh farming, its language, communities and culture, and of its place in UK and EU farming and environmental policy. He is as widely revered among politicians, opinion formers and the Cardiff ‘chattering classes’, as he is amongst his farming fans.

Dei's popular broadcasts, in English and his native Welsh, are authoritative, while providing easy listening. His knowledge, breadth of vision and finely tuned instinct means that no interviewee emerges unscathed – often without realising that their carefully prepared brief has been rumbled.

The ‘day job’ involves producing and presenting the daily farming news bulletin each morning on Radio Cymru. He regularly presents other programmes on TV and radio in both English and Welsh and is often asked to provide background, comment and advice on emerging news stories.

He also presents the half hour Saturday Radio Cymru farming programme, which follows a variety of themes, from farm visits to show reports and specials on policy changes. His mission is always to inform and educate about farming practices and policies, with losing the vital entertainment aspect.

Dei's influence extends beyond his journalism remit – he is Vice President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and Council for National Parks. He also served for nine years as a Welsh Secretary of State nominee on the Snowdonia National Park Authority and ten years as a member of the board of the Countryside Council for Wales.

In addition, Dei served two terms as a member of the Welsh Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund and is presently a member of the Welsh Advisory Board of the National Trust in Wales.

He is an Associate of the Association of Royal Agricultural Societies and a member of the Gorsedd, the National Eisteddford Bards’ circle, one of Wales’s highest cultural honours, and in 2015 was the Welsh Radio Broadcaster of the Year nominee at the Celtic Media festival in Inverness.

He was commissioned to write a book on the Welsh Coast to coincide with the opening of the Welsh Coastal Path in 2012 and he has a continuing involvement with the Welsh Youth Organisation. He also served a long stint as a member of the Snowdon Mountain Rescue Team.

Dei joined Heddiw, the flagship BBC Wales Welsh language daily evening news magazine programme as a young reporter, following thirteen years as Youth Officer and Deputy Head of the Urdd Gobaith Cymru Outdoor Education Centre.

The advent of S4C, the Welsh Fourth TV Channel, gave him the opportunity to present a series of television countryside programmes. His TV work has also included farming programmes, as well as a number of adventure and travel TV programmes.

Dei’s success is rooted in his knowledge, empathy, talent and integrity. It is also due to his credibility and respect for farming.

2014

Steve Mitchell + Jane CraigieThe 2014 recipient of the Netherthorpe Award trophy is Steve Mitchell, PR practitioner and former staff journalist, and of particular relevance to this accolade, the long-time organiser of the Guild's John Deere Training Award and its intensive and influential writing course for aspiring journalists and communicators in agriculture and horticulture.

Announcing the award at the annual Harvest Lunch, Guild chairman Jane Craigie said: "To say that the winner of this year's award has given a huge amount to many people in this room is an understatement. He has given them the all-important start to their careers in journalism or communications."

His nominator said of the winner: "As an editor, I know I can call on him when I am looking for the next star journalist. He takes a great interest in the progress of course ‘graduates’ and is always keen to help and champion those he believes will be an asset to a potential employer.

"This role, organiser of the Guild's new entrants training scheme, is one he carries out entirely voluntarily, but always professionally and willingly – and it is invaluable for all concerned."

Steve Mitchell and his partner Adrienne have put more than 250 potential agricultural journalists through the training course, a feat of dedication and one which is absolutely core to the continued success and high standards of Britain’s agricultural press. Look at any of the UK’s farming media or PR companies and most employ one or more people who have benefited from the scheme.

The BGAJ / John Deere Training Award Roll of Honour

After leaving university, Steve spent almost 10 years from 1978 as an agricultural journalist with Morgan-Grampian Farm Journals, working on the monthly magazines Livestock Farming and What’s new in Farming, including a five-year spell as editor of the latter title.

He then moved into public relations as Press & PR manager at the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), managing publicity for all the Society’s shows and exhibitions, including the Royal Show and specialist technical events, including Cereals and the Pig & Poultry Fair.

Steve joined specialist PR agency Pharo Communications in 1989, writing press releases and features, producing and editing a range of in-house magazines, newsletters and promotional material, and managing PR campaigns and special projects. He and his wife Adrienne left Pharo to set up their own business.

ASM Public Relations was formed in April 2004 and looks after PR and event support for John Deere and John Deere Financial. Steve has organised the John Deere Training Award on the Guild’s behalf since it started in 1991.

"Huge thanks are due to course lecturer David Mascord, who after all is the key man, to all those past course members who supported my nomination, to John Deere for continuing to support the Award and my role in it, and of course to my wife/business partner/better half Adrienne," said Steve.

"To have my name listed alongside the likes of David Richardson, Stuart Seaton, Arthur Anderson and all those other truly great agricultural journalists is honestly beyond my comprehension."

2013

Ken FletcherThe 2013 winner of the Guild's Netherthorpe Award, Ken Fletcher, deputy and technical editor of The Scottish Farmer, is described by Guild chairman Jane Craigie as a warm and charismatic agricultural journalist and an ambassador for farming.

He is also a keen mentor of youngsters and actively supportive of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, as well as several charities.

Guild members who nominated Ken said his energy and enthusiasm, coupled with a passion for the job, have made him many friends from all walks of life in the industry.

“I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive the Netherthorpe Award,” said Ken. “I always thought it was for people older and wiser than me … but then I found out that there are very few that are now older, though many remain wiser!

“Agriculture is an industry which rarely says ‘thank you’ to anyone and so on behalf of myself and my colleagues – who are very much part of the reasons why I could even be considered for this award – I say a huge ‘thanks’ to those who nominated me and for those who adjudged that I deserved it.”

Ken was a member of the West Renfrew Young Farmers Club when he joined The Scottish Farmer as a cub reporter aged 17 in 1977. He says his greatest achievement was the coverage of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001, when he and other members of The Scottish Farmer team did not just report the tragedy but became a counselling service to farmers all over Scotland.

As deputy and technical editor, he reports on livestock, arable and machinery matters, and is inclined to mentor new members of staff to help them get to grips with the routine of a weekly publications.

With his brother Alasdair, editor of The Scottish Farmer, he owns a 110 acre farm in Bishopton where they have reared Suffolk and Rouge de l'Ouest and now have Blackface sheep and Aberdeen-Angus cattle.

In other words, Ken is very much involved in the industry as well as reporting on it; he is also a renowned after dinner speaker and one of the few who can combine humour with a serious message. Burns Suppers are a particular forte.

But other than organising a fishing trip with farming friends to Knoydart, there is nothing he enjoys more than going to an agricultural show - be it the Royal Highland or a local event - to talk to farmers, partake of a little refreshment, and report in The SF on Scotland's finest livestock.

 

2012

The most prestigious award made by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists was presented jointly to two stalwarts of the industry – Andrew Arbuckle, rural editor on The Scotsman; and David Cousins, machinery editor of Farmers Weekly.

BGAJ Netherthorpe 2012

The crowing cockerel trophy was presented to David Cousins (left) and Andrew Arbuckle (right) by Gloucestershire farmer and BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson at the annual Harvest Lunch.

Andrew Arbuckle has written as a freelance journalist for all the Scottish quality dailies during his long career, as well as agricultural titles throughout the UK.

He is equally at home writing highly technical articles and interviews with the agricultural industry’s leaders as he is talking to grass roots farmers while covering small rural shows.

Andrew’s nomination noted: “One of his great skills is in the writing of opinion pieces, where he mixes his keen sense of humour with a courageous analysis of the industry and the personalities involved.”

David Cousins is regarded as one of farming’s sharpest and most respected scribes, writing concise, authoritative and often witty articles on agricultural machinery and its use.

His nomination also highlights “his high standards and a commitment to honest, no nonsense, entertaining journalism – indeed, everything he writes is entertaining”.

During his 30-year career – all of it spent on Farmers Weekly – David has worked mainly on the machinery desk but has also worked as Features Editor and has shown flexibility and journalistic talent through an extensive and diverse body of work, turning his hand to leader writing, news reporting, video making and blogging.

2011

Howard Walsh, Farmers Guardian business and former machinery editor, is this year’s recipient of the Guild’s most prestigious award, The Netherthorpe, which celebrates the achievements of members in making an outstanding and sustained contribution to agricultural communications.

Howard, who confessed to being stunned by the announcement, received the bronze crowing cockerel trophy and commemorative certificate from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, at the annual harvest lunch.

Guild chairman, Adrian Bell emphasised that this is the only award for which members do not enter themselves: it is based solely on nominations made by fellow members.

GAJ Netherthorpe 2011“Once again, the nominees have been of such a high calibre that it has been a difficult decision for the judges,” he said.  All the nominees worked as journalists and have contributed to the dissemination of knowledge and understanding about agriculture in its widest sense.

“However, the 2011 winner has set the standard for professionalism in agricultural journalism, whether writing about technological developments in combine harvesters, reporting on breed champions at county shows, or reading between the lines of business reports.

“His straightforward, accessible style of writing has appealed to readers for over 40 years and has helped to influence and inspire a generation of agricultural journalists,” Adrian added.

One of his many nominees wrote: “His work is informative, precise and accurate in providing the vital link between the happenings and practicalities of modern farming with the need for wider readership to understand its function.”

In response, Howard said: “Your Royal Highness, fellow journalists. I’m stunned! My initial reaction was: You’ve got to be joking; but obviously not....

GAJ Netherthorpe - Howard Walsh“When I think of the varied and distinguished careers of the recipients of this award in the past I’m stunned that I was even nominated, let alone chosen to receive it. I don’t really consider my contribution to agricultural journalism to be particularly outstanding; possibly only in its duration!

“As you said, my career started with Farmers Guardian just over forty years ago – and will inevitably finish there! Probably the biggest influence on my journalism was the late Stuart Seaton; his style and the standards he set rubbed off on most of the people who worked with him at Farmers Guardian and they served as his legacies.

“What heartens me is the very excellent array of young journalists coming through the profession now on Farmers Guardian and on various other publications; and as Your Royal Highness mentioned earlier, their role is increasingly important in spreading agriculture’s message to a sometimes less than receptive audience.

“Thank you once again; this is amazing.”

GAJ Netherthorpe 2011

HRH, The Princess Royal, Guild president Lord Cameron of Dillington (seated), Netherthorpe Award winner Howard Walsh (left) and Guild chairman Adrian Bell enjoy a quip from the audience in response to Howard's acceptance speech.

2010

The Guild’s Netherthorpe Communicator of the Year award for 2010 was presented press and PR consultant Ross Muir, who said: “I am honoured and privileged to receive this award after more than forty years in the agri-communications business.”

Cameron + Muir

The 2010 award winner, selected from member nominations by Guild president Lord Ewen Cameron (left above) and chairman Adrian Bell, received the crowing cockerel trophy, which is permanently displayed in the bar at The Farmers Club.

Today, Ross focuses on press and public relations but his career includes many years writing as a journalist for several familiar titles.

“I studied agriculture in Aberdeen before joining the staff of The Scottish Farmer as a trainee reporter,” Ross recalls. “I then moved to The Scotsman, later joined a features agency in Fleet Street, London, and had a spell on the farming desk at the Press & Journal in Aberdeen.”

He set up a public relations consultancy in the early 1970s and also started freelance broadcasting with the BBC, working on various radio and television programmes and presenting at both Grampian and Scottish Television.

He was best known, however, as the presenter for 25 years of the BBC’s award-winning Landward programme, which took him filming all over the world. A 1991 documentary he scripted and presented about rural life in Papua New Guinea won the One World Broadcasting Trust’s award for best regional television programme.

“For the past twenty years I’ve worked as press officer of the Royal Highland Show, which last year attracted an audience of nearly 190,000 people, handled media relations for the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland, and edited the members’ magazine,” notes Ross. “I merged the company with O’Leary Public Relations in 2005 and the business now trades as O’Leary RM Public Relations based in Dunfermline. Although the agency has a wide portfolio of non-agric clients, we continue to specialise in the food and farming sector.”

The citation for the Netherthorpe Award reads: Ross Muir is one of Scotland’s most respected public relations experts specialising in the food and farming sectors and has been a central force in agri-journalism in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. It is a mark of his professionalism that he has frequently been the first point of contact for organisations or companies in the industry either seeking to build a public profile or restore public confidence after national disasters such as BSE and foot and mouth.

“Although I regard winning the Netherthorpe Award as the pinnacle of my career, it doesn't signal an intention to retire,” Ross emphasises. “As a Guild member, I will continue to spread the word about food and farming, a sector all too frequently taken for granted by the politicians and the public.”

2009

The Guild’s 2009 Netherthorpe Award, for consistent excellence in agricultural communications, was presented at the Royal Show awards party to Guild member Ken Rundle, who earlier is the year gained similar recognition by way of the inaugural Ambassador Award from NFU Scotland.

"In more than a quarter of a century devoted to agricultural communication, Ken has proved to be an excellent journalist and commentator who has inspired many young people to take up careers in the farming sector,” said Guild awards secretary, Lindy Margach. “He has also shown an unparalleled ability to use an extensive knowledge of the industry as the source of sharp analysis and clear explanations of sometimes confusing issues."

Kent spent 20 years with BBC Scotland, where he started as producer of the daily Scottish Farming news radio programme before becoming rural affairs correspondent and presenter of Landward, the weekly television programme. In 2008, he moved to SAC, the Scottish Agricultural College education, research and advisory organisation, to take on the head of communications role.

While very different from his previous jobs, he says, there are many similarities in terms of the need to get across simple messages and information about often complex topics.

Netherthorpe Award 2009 winner Ken Rundle receives the crowing cockerel trophy from Guild president, Margaret, the Countess of Mar

"Ken produced and presented a daily radio programme before moving on to interpret food, farming and rural issues to a general audience via news programmes on both radio and television,” recalled Lindy. “Being appointed to this role at the onset of Britain’s BSE crisis meant he was on the air on a daily basis, reporting and analysing the development of one of the biggest stories of its kind for many years.

"His ability to explain clearly the veterinary, economic and social impact of BSE and, later, other crises hitting the farming industry, meant that he was also a constant source of reference for other journalists and for programme makers throughout the BBC," she added.

Moving on to a weekly television programme gave Ken the opportunity to help build a bridge of understanding between rural and urban populations – a key role of the agricultural communicator.

"Most recently, he has moved from the ‘front line’ of daily reporting to the equally important role of identifying and communicating essential messages from the fields of research and education," noted Lindy. "But the quality of output has remained, to the benefit of his many colleagues throughout agricultural journalism."

After receiving the Netherthorpe ‘crowing cockerel’ trophy and framed certificate from the Guild president, Ken Rundle said he considered it a great honour to receive the award.

"I'm very proud to be an agricultural journalist, to be involved in this industry and to be a part of the communications sector of this industry," he said.

2008

Scottish freelance journalist Bill Howatson won the 2008 Netherthorpe Award in recognition of his near 30-year record communicating to farming and lay audiences through a number of Scottish newspapers.

Bill was chosen from six nominations made by Guild members; they were judged by Guild president The Countess of Mar; Guild honorary member, past president and chairman of the judging panel, Tony Pexton; and 2007 winner Don Gomery.

Bill Howatson

The award is presented annually to the Guild member who among those nominated by fellow members is judged to have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to agricultural communications. It was first made in 1991 and is recognised as the Guild’s premier award.

Bill's nominee wrote: "For three decades, Bill Howatson has gone above and beyond the call in communicating the agricultural industry to the British public. Unlike many agricultural journalists, who seem to think their job is to do the industry’s public relations, Bill has questioned and criticised.

"His questions have been probing, his criticism well justified of an industry that still, in many instances, believes the world owes it a living. His contributions are incisive, his wit acerbic and his writing style a pleasure to read."

In addition to the bronze 'crowing cockerel' trophy, sculpted by former Guild member, the late Rintoul Booth and which stands on permanent display in the bar of The Farmers Club, London, Bill receives a framed certificate a meal for two at The Farmers Club to a value of £100.

The Netherthorpe Award 'crowing cockerel' trophy

Bill Howatson started his career as an agricultural journalist in 1979 as markets editor of The Scottish Farmer, moving in 1983 to the Dumfries & Galloway Standard as a sub editor and features writer.

In 1984 he was appointed farming sub editor on the Press & Journal, Aberdeen, becoming farming editor later that year and holding the post until 1996, when he left to do freelance and public services work.

He has served on the boards of Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Agency, as well as continuing to write regularly for the P&J and the Dundee Courier, while also having articles published in The Scotsman, The Herald and Tayside Farmer.

Bill was elected to Aberdeenshire Council in 1999, and re-elected in 2003 and 2007.  As a councillor, and reflecting his strong interest in rural Scotland, he chairs both the North East of Scotland Agricultural Advisory Group and the council’s internal Rural Affairs Working Group.

He served on the Guild council from 1989 to 1998 and was national chairman in 1995-96, holding office also as secretary and chairman of the Scottish regional group.

Bill has won several Press awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies (FRAgS).

2007

The Guild's honorary general secretary, Don Gomery, was the surprised and delighted recipient of the Netherthorpe 'Communicator of the Year' award, presented at the Royal Show.

The Netherthorpe is the Guild’s most prestigious award, as it is made on the basis of nominations to a member judged to have made a prolonged, consistent and high-quality contribution to communications within agriculture and/or horticulture and the countryside.

This year's award was presented by Yorkshire farmer Tony Pexton, a former Guild president and chairman of the judging panel. He and fellow judges Margaret, the Countess of Mar (this year's Guild president) and last year's winner, Essex farmer and writer Guy Smith, decided Don deserved the award for: "his long and distinguished service to agricultural journalism and communications in general, as well as to the Guild of Agricultural Journalists in the UK and abroad."

Don Gomery started his career in agricultural journalism in 1960 as a features writer for Pig Farming and Dairy Farmer magazines before moving to Dairy Farmer a couple of years later. He then spent seven years as its editor.

Don moved to Farmers Weekly in 1973 as UK political correspondent, became European correspondent, then business editor and finally deputy editor, before moving into the world of public relations with Pharo Communications in 1986 as a director and company secretary.

Upon leaving in 1998, Don became a freelance writer, in which guise he works as editor of The Farmers Club Journal, the newsletter of the Worshipful Company of Farmers and World Wide News, the monthly newsletter of World Wide Sires UK.

Despite this busy workload, Don finds time to handle the endless administration involved in keeping the Guild running, while also representing the organisation at International Federation meetings.

He has been honorary general secretary for 22 years now and during that time has been involved in some way or other with just about every event the Guild has staged, including International Congresses held in Britain in 1987 and 1997, while also helping look after the Guild’s Charitable Trust as its secretary.

All in all, a well-deserved recipient of the bronze 'Crowing Cockerel' trophy, which is displayed year-round in the bar of the Farmers Club in London.

Don Gomery (left) receives the bronze 'Crowing Cockerel' trophy as the 2007 Netherthorpe award winner from former Guild president Tony Pexton.

2006

The Guild's Netherthorpe Award was presented to Essex farmer and Guild member Guy Smith for his informative and often controversial writing, including a regular Smith's Soapbox column in Arable Farming and, in particular, his efforts to promote information and positive messages on agriculture. His Food, Farm & Countryside project has sent out 300,000 copies of a 28-page booklet aimed at communicating key facts about the British agricultural industry to the general public.

One of the judges, former Guild president Tony Pexton, presents the Netherthorpe Award to Essex farmer and writer Guy Smith. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

2005

The Guild's Netherthorpe Award was presented to Stephen Howe in the year he stepped down as editor of Farmers Weekly.

Stephen Howe, former Farmers Weekly editor, receives the Guild's Netherthorpe Award for 'Communicator of the Year 2005' from Guild President Hazel Byford. Photo: Jonathan Page, Farmers Weekly.

2004

Debbie Beaton was selected to receive the Netherthorpe Award for her influential period as Crops editor.

Guild President Hazel Byford (left), presents the Guild's Netherthorpe Award for 'Communicator of the Year 2004' to Debbie Beaton of Farmers Weekly Group.

Website by Website Development Ltd