Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Finalists Revealed

The Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Award, sponsored by HSBC, will once again be awarded at the national Women in Dairy conference next month. Presented to the individual who has demonstrated the core values of Women in Dairy – connect, share and inspire – the award aims to celebrate the achievements of women in the British dairy industry.

This year was no exception when it came to fantastic quality nominations – evidence that there are some brilliant women working across a whole host of roles and jobs in the industry promoting the sector and everything it stands for. This year’s four finalists were chosen by the advisory board and will now face an interview round ahead of the winner announcement.

Meet your 2019 Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Award finalists:

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MARY QUICKE

  • Location: Devon

  • Executive director of Quickes Traditional Ltd – the largest British naturally matured traditional cheddar maker

  • 1500 acre farm with 600 cows

  • 14th generation

Quickes is an integrated cheesemaking and farming family owned business producing world class cheese. Mary has been running the cheese business since 1987 and received an MBE for her contribution to farming and cheesemaking in 2006.

Mary applies her cheese expertise by judging at a number of prestigious cheese competitions including the World Cheese Awards, Bath & West Show, British Cheese Awards and the American Cheese Society Awards.

In 2013 Mary began work on the Academy of Cheese which officially launched in 2017, aiming to promote cheese knowledge and provide career development, both within the industry and amongst the wider public.

She holds several non-executive directorships including board memberships for the Food Standards Agency and AHDB Dairy and is trustee of Seale-Hayne Educational Trust and Devon County Agriculture Association. She also shares her experiences of farm life each month in her award winning column for Devon Life magazine.


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GEMMA SMALE-ROWLAND

  • Location: Cornwall

  • Founder of Cornish Moo

  • Farming a 120 pedigree Holstein herd grazing for at least six months of the year

  • 4th generation

Building her own dairy herd is something Gemma dreamt of from a young age. After much hard work and support from her family this is now a reality. In February 2019 she created a new business ‘Cornish Moo’ – an on-farm vending machine which not only allows the public to buy the highest quality milk but helps them engage with where their milk comes from.

Despite the challenges facing the dairy industry Gemma continues to educate herself, push boundaries and constantly makes it her mission to connect, share and inspire others to change the perception of the sector for the next generation.

Despite her involvement with commercial farming Gemma still makes time to actively contribute to policy development and sits on a number of boards including the National Dairy Board and Red Tractor TAC Board. She has previously held roles on the Dairy Crest Forum Board and is a past Worshipful Company of Farmers Scholar and RABDF Entrepreneurs in Dairying graduate.

Alongside this Gemma actively drives farm safety campaigns such as #buckleupforiceman and organises meetings at her farm to provide local farmers a chance to address key issues with their local MP and farming organisations such as the NFU.


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BECKI LEACH

  • Location: Yorkshire

  • Senior Consultant at Kite Consulting

  • Former Knowledge Exchange Manager for AHDB Dairy

Becki has worked within agriculture in a variety of roles since completing her BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Science in 2008. Until recently Becki worked as a Knowledge Exchange Manager for AHDB Dairy and has been described as the driving force behind their Dairy Leader Programme. She has now joined Kite Consulting as a Senior Consultant, focusing on people and business management; facilitating farmer groups and working with individual farm businesses. Becki says her personal and professional mission is to actively influence the success and positive reputation of British Agriculture and has developed a strong social media presence to help champion this cause.

She is widely known for her dedicated approach to her work and has embedded a layer of trust with dairy farmers and other participants in the dairy supply chain. She is not only a team player but inspires those around her by taking farm related projects to the next level – engaging with farmers from all system types and sizes.

Becki has studied best practice in other industries which has allowed her to transfer this knowledge to those in the dairy sector. She is currently studying a ‘Lean Management’ course with the view that, used as a management tool, it has the potential to benefit the industry at many levels.

Becki also works on a busy farm in Yorkshire focusing on livestock management and regularly participates in a milk delivery round.


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LYNSEY AWDE

  • Location: Cumbria

  • Owner of Broadmeadows Farm

  • Farming 1,300 acres, managing 500 head of pedigree milking cows with 500 followers and 300 beef

  • Ambassador for developing young female talent in the industry

Lynsey has always had a passion for British agriculture and succession from her parents plays a large part in where she is with her farm today. Her team comprises of family, students and long term employees – many of which are not only female, but come from non-farming backgrounds, with limited or no dairying knowledge or experience.

In addition to the farm Lynsey also has an active role on the regional board for Meadowfoods and has worked to develop an effective and successful working relationship with World Wide Sires Global Training Centre in Washington. This work has not only improved the health and welfare outcomes on farm but increased her knowledge which has made protocols and attention to detail paramount in education and allowed some of her young female staff to be upskilled.

The farm is energy self-sufficient and aims to become one of the lowest carbon footprints of any farm. They run an anaerobic digester solely off waste manure, in turn contributing to the reduction of artificial fertiliser use. In running a successful enterprise the farm is able to produce food in a responsible way and through the use of education to help benefit nature as well as people’s health and wellbeing.


We asked all our finalists how it felt to be nominated and selected as a finalist:

MQ: I feel so honoured – there are a lot of amazing women in dairy.

When I first went into farming, women were just as vital, and important, but took a back seat. I suppose I’ve been fortunate to be in the driving seat since and it’s been a fun ride!

GSR: When I heard I’d been nominated and selected as a finalist I was both shocked and honoured. I see myself as just a dairy farmer’s daughter from Cornwall who wants to inspire and encourage others into our industry, promoting and making positive change for our future. To be honest it’s amazing that someone has recognised me and taken the time and effort to nominate me!

BL: As a woman working in an industry that I am hugely passionate about it’s a massive compliment to be nominated – not only alongside some fantastic finalists, but also amongst lots of other women throughout the industry. I hope it acts as a catalyst to raise the profile of all women in dairy and wider agriculture focuses on the invaluable contribution we make.

LA: No matter how old or young you are, positive recognition of your work is always a proud moment however, I was both shocked and overwhelmed.

We then went on to ask what future opportunities they see for the industry:

MQ: There are lots of future opportunities, we must make the best use of all the people, regardless of their background and where they come from. We also have the opportunity to make a chance for the carbon sequestration value of permanent pasture so people understand that eating dairy actually helps save the planet. We must also work on people’s knowledge and appreciation of dairy – my aim with Academy of Cheese is that great cheese will be served in every pub and café in the land – like you can currently get great wine.

GSR: We face a huge number of challenges as we look towards the future but none that can’t be overcome and changed into opportunities. It’s important to remember that we need a lot of drive, passion, vision and work to move forward in today’s agricultural industry in order to create a brighter future. I want to ensure the next generation know what a fantastic sector we have and what chances they have, so will continue to strive to be an industry spokesperson and role model working to create a bright path for the generations to come.

BL: Now, more than ever, we need to adapt and react to a quickly changing and often challenging production environment. I think the biggest opportunities for our industry lie in the hands of its people and how they react to these challenges. There is so much we can do to connect, collaborate and share ideas and information between ourselves and allied industries. We can use these networks to also help improve and promote our industry. It is crucial to make sure everyone is valued for the skills and experience they bring, so ultimately, we have an industry where we don’t need a “women” specific group. Finally, we should share our passion for our industry to engage the consumer and think creatively about how we can create opportunities to inspire the next generation into the industry.

LA: Whilst animal health and welfare continues to be a high priority we need to encourage the media usage in order for our sector to educate and interest future generations – welcoming agricultural press, farming groups, the local community, colleges and children to visit and get a better understanding of innovative approaches. By doing this the younger generation will then be able to better aid the development of future technology to make our industry more sustainable and desirable.

This year’s Women in Dairy conference takes place on Wednesday 18 September at Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Tickets can be purchased online at www.womenindairy.co.uk/conference - with concessions in place for Women in Dairy members and students. A full programme, timings and speaker information can also be found online. For further information or queries please contact the office on 02476 639317 or email emilyegan@rabdf.co.uk

Past Women in Dairy award winners explain why they think the initiative is vital for the industry

Established to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in the British dairy industry the Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Award has continued to grow in popularity and has crowned several worthy winners working at regional and national levels throughout the sector since its inception three years ago.

Women in Dairy patron Di Wastenage says reading the nominations each year is a huge privilege and utterly inspiring. “The conference and awards are our opportunity to showcase the diverse roles, strengths and talents within our sector and I have no doubt our industry is in safe hands.”

Regional winner Ceri Cryer (l) and national winner Jan Prince (r) receiving the Dairy Woman of the Year Awards from principal sponsor HSBC's Denise LlewellynWEB.jpg

Last year Janette Prince, an organic dairy farmer and well known figure within the industry, won the national award for her promotion of the industry – sharing her knowledge and personal experiences to inspire others into the sector. Regional winner Ceri Cryer promised to “live up to this award” when she was crowned regional winner – victorious due to her work with local tv, radio and social media to promote the industry and benefits of dairy products.

We caught up with Jan and Ceri to find out their thoughts on all things Women in Dairy.

What do you think is the biggest benefit of the Women in Dairy initiative?

JP: It’s a great way of networking, not only with fellow dairy farmers, but other women involved in the industry, from processors, vets and nutritionists. The local and national meetings have provided numerous opportunities to develop my business and personal skills.

CC: It’s a great platform for raising the profile of dairy farming – it has a powerful force of active, capable women who are able to make that difference, raise their horizons and go for the committees, chairmanships and non-executive director positions.

Why would you encourage other women to get involved?

JP: Farming can be an isolating business whether you farm in your own right or as part of a family partnership. The groups provide an opportunity to give yourself some space to think whilst sharing and exchanging ideas with likeminded individuals.

CC: Women have worked and acted as a support mechanism in the industry for many years but have not necessarily been recognised for their contribution. I feel the groups provide a platform for women to speak out in an environment that could otherwise be regarded as intimidating. There’s no doubt we are making progress as an industry and I hope one day there will be so many women involved in the sector that their voice will be heard without the need for such initiatives as Women in Dairy.

Why do you think the role of women in the industry deserves to be recognised through awards such as these?

JP: There are many people, men and women, who do a lot to support and promote the industry however many go unrecognised. With these awards specifically highlighting the role of women in the industry they will hopefully encourage others to get involved and show how diverse the sector is. More and more women are coming into agriculture and taking the driving seat and I think that can only be a good thing.

CC: It’s so important to recognise all of the work done by individuals across the industry and awards such as these help further empower women by giving them some of the recognition they deserve for their work – acknowledgements like this encourage us all to keep going when times get tough.

What did winning the national Women in Dairy award mean to you?

JP: As a “townie” who came into farming by marriage 35 years ago, founded the Staffordshire branch of the Women’s Farming Union and was told back then by our NFU county secretary to “leave the important stuff to the men”, it means a great deal. His comment only made me more determined to be a good ambassador for the industry and not be afraid to take a seat at the table with the men! But, it is also with thanks to many people, who have supported and mentored me along the way.

CC: I felt both overwhelmed and undeserving of the award but am glad it generated that bit more media conversation about dairy farming and Women in Dairy.

Where do you see the role of women in the industry in the next ten years?

JP: We need to remember this is not a battle of the sexes, we all have a part to play and I think women bring another dimension to the dairy industry that is very important. I believe, regardless of gender, we must all play to our strengths and bear in mind working together is key.

CC: Simply taking up more space in it and making more noise!

Why would you encourage people to submit a nomination for next year’s awards?

JP: Acknowledgement that your efforts are recognised as a positive force is an excellent way of saying thank you. I was delighted to discover I’d even been nominated, so someone taking the time to do that is very worthwhile in itself!

CC: You know that someone you admire, who’s out their doing great things in the industry? Nominate them and then come along to the conference to find out how they’ve got on – award nominations aside it’s a fabulous day out regardless.

The finalists for this year’s awards will be announced in the next edition of British Dairying with the winners being named at the conference.

This year’s Women in Dairy national conference takes place on Wednesday 18 September at Sixways Stadium, Worcester. The full programme and further information can be found here. Tickets are now on sale via the website with concessions in place for Women in Dairy members and group members. The early bird rate for standard tickets is valid until the end of July.