British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - September 2013

Harvest Service & Lunch – final details

Preparations are all in place for the Guild’s popular Harvest Service and Harvest Lunch on Thursday, October 10 and the lunch is a sell-out this year with a number of hopefuls waiting to see if places become available through cancellations. Contact Guild secretary Nikki Robertson to join the waiting list.

“At just £55 for Members of the Guild, I think we’re delivering fantastic value at an event that would normally command ticket prices considerably more than that,” says organiser, Guild deputy chairman Howard Venters. “That is very much thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, of course: Lloyds Bank Agriculture and AMC; Waitrose; Partners In Purchasing and the produce wholesalers supplying ingredients; and the Jersey Cattle Society.

“But demand for places also shows the popularity of this great event – and I hope it will be reflected in a packed St Brides Church for the service,” Howard adds. “We’ve added another twist to the musical content again this year, which we’re keeping a surprise until the day.”

Members and Friends of the Guild not attending the Harvest Lunch are welcome to join in the Harvest Service celebration: it starts promptly at 11am and lasts for about an hour, conducted by Guild chaplain, the Venerable David Meara.

Baroness Hazel Byford, former Guild president and Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, will give the address, with Ian Harvie Peebles, Master of the Poulters livery company, reading one of the lessons. A plate collection will be divided equally between St Brides Church and the Guild’s Charitable Trust.

The post-lunch venue is another opportunity to meet up with colleagues and friends, who will be there from about 4pm onwards. The Press House wine bar should be easy enough to find – it’s located beneath the spire of St Brides Church! Use the link to find its exact location.

The Harvest Lunch at nearby Stationers’ Hall begins with a drinks reception sponsored by Keenan, whose Innovations in Agriculture journalism award will be presented on the day. The Guild’s Netherthorpe ‘Communicator of the Year’ and Yara Journalism Awards will also be presented, along with a short video promoting IFAJ Congress 2014, the worldwide rural journalists’ convention being hosted by the Guild next September.

Guest speaker

"They need to be fit, adaptable and self-reliant, and prepared to work in small teams in any weather conditions to get the job done.”

That could easily be a description of the demands of being a farmer – but the text refers to the attributes of armoured reconnaisance soldiers in the Queen’s Own Yeomanry, whose commanding officer, Lt Colonel Hugh Campbell Smith, will speak at the Harvest Lunch.

The Territorial Army regiment, with squadrons in Newcastle, York, Belfast, Ayr and Cupar, is equipped with machine-gun armed Land Rovers to gather intelligence on the enemy and environment. Among Lt Colonel Campbell Smith’s themes will be the importance of resources security – including food and water – in maintaining effective national defence.

Charitable Trust

A noticeable increase in the demands on the Guild’s Charitable Trust make it all the more important that fund-raising efforts at the Harvest Lunch are successful, says Clive Rainbird, liaison officer between the Guild’s management council and the Trustees - read his review of the trustees' work here.

“The work of the Trustees is by no means just handing out cash to Members who find themselves in difficulty,” says Clive. “But it is a most important element of their work that draws only on the investment income earned from the capital fund – so the larger the fund, the more financial help available.

“All Members and Friends of the Guild should have received tickets for the prize draw; please don’t leave them to one side; either sell them to colleagues, family or friends, or buy them yourself,” Clive urges. “But be sure to return the stubs (with payment) in time for the draw or bring them to the harvest lunch – more tickets are available on request to Charitable Trust treasurer, Diane Montague.”

Bid for Wimbledon tickets

Two Centre Court tickets for next year’s Wimbledon tennis championships will be auctioned at the Harvest Lunch for the benefit of the Guild’s Charitable Trust.

“These fantastic seats, kindly donated Group Capt Grieve Carson, a trustee and long-time supporter of the Guild, are for the first day of the event, June 23,” notes trustees chairman, Stephen Howe. “They are located in a prime position on Centre Court directly opposite and on eye level with the Royal Box – so the successful bidder is guaranteed a good view when the championships open next year.

“Members, family, friends and colleagues needn’t miss out if they are not going to the Harvest Lunch,” adds Stephen. “I’ll be accepting email bids up to 6pm on Wednesday, October 9 – just make it a generous sum to have a good chance of securing these great tickets!”

Please note: the successful bidder must make the donation direct to the Trust. Tickets will be sent mid-May 2014 and under no circumstances can they be sold or passed on to a third party because of the risk that they end up on the black market.

Professional development

Members and Friends of the Guild have the chance to influence a programme of professional development training workshops by completing a survey devised by Julie Mate, a member of the Guild’s management council overseeing the initiative.

“Over the past three years, the Guild has offered a small number of well-received professional training courses – including photographyvideo production for the web and social media,” she points out. “We are now looking to run a wider variety of high quality, bespoke training workshops and events to add to the benefits of Guild membership.”

With the feature writing workshop held earlier this month over-subscribed there is clearly a need for simple but effective training opportunities that can be provided at modest cost.

“But we really want to hear from Members and Friends to ensure we cover the topics they want,” says Julie.

Use this link to read more and access the online survey.

Award win

Congratulations to Mike Abram (now PR & Communications manager at Bayer CropScience) for winning the IFAJ’s Star Prize for print journalism. His article from Crops magazine was on controlled traffic farming to minimise compaction by confining field equipment to the same wheelings.

It was selected as the Guild’s entry from last year’s award winners. In 2012, Mike’s piece was runner-up in Keenan's Innovations in Agriculture journalism award – this year, it also attracted the eye of the IFAJ’s award judging panel.

Multimedia contest

Members of the Guild aged 26 and under can win up to £250 and a free place at the British Cattle Breeders' Club conference next year by entering a multimedia presentation contest. Relevant to either beef or dairy, the presentation Breeding to deliver high quality food to a hungry world should last no more than 10 minutes and will be judged at the conference on presentation skills, coherance of arguments, and content.

Jobs & Recruitment

Vacant positions are mentioned in Guild eAlerts as a service to members but a recruitment advertising service is also available to organisations that wish to put full details about a post in front of the Guild's 500 members involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website here. The National Sheep Association, based in Malvern, Worcs, wants to appoint a Communications Officer to support the association’s various communication activities in-print, online and at events. The role would suit a graduate or someone with experience of agricultural communications, and preferably with enthusiasm for the sheep or livestock sector generally.

Year Book updates

Update the Guild Year Book with the new job, location and contact details noted here, as well as any new member listings below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archive section of the Guild website.

Howard Venters and his Shepherd Publishing concern have a new postal address: Burnt House Garden, North Common, North Chailey, East Sussex, BN8 4DJ. All other contact details remain as shown in the Year Book.

Peter and Wendy Ryder of Lancer PR have new email addresses: peter.ryder007@btinternet.comand

The Guild has lost contact with Bill Taylor, former editor of The Countryman magazine. If any Member or Friend of the Guild knows of his whereabouts and/or a telephone number or email address, please contact secretary Nikki Robertson.

New Members and Friends

People involved in the agricultural industry who would like to establish or maintain links with the Guild and its Members but who do not qualify for membership themselves can become a Friend to receive eAlerts, attend events and be listed in the Year Book.

In News on the Guild website:

Agri-hub matches sources to editor needs Press registration for CropTec New Member: Oliver Franzen Training options - members' views sought Charitable Trust - an inside view New Member: Bridget Johnson Michael Bird's writing skills appreciated

Send in your news

Please send any career news, publication/website launches or redesigns, agency appointments, award wins and campaigns, etc, to website and eAlerts editor Peter Hill.


Contact the Guild secretary, Nikki Robertson, if you wish to:

Apply for Retired Member status to pay the reduced subscription

Apply to become a Member of the Guild as a Friend who now qualifies for membership

Notify that you are resigning from the Guild


Johann Tasker

01206 263807


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