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RASE Bledisloe Day Award Winner Announced

Date Published: 29/07/2019



Four awards were presented at the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s Bledisloe Day, held on the 18th June, at Wykeham Abbey, Dawnay Estates, Yorkshire.

The awards, which recognise excellence in agricultural science, the environment and business management, include the prestigious ‘Bledisloe Gold Medal’ for landowners demonstrating outstanding achievement in the successful management and development of an agricultural estate in England.

Also awarded was the ‘National Agricultural award’ for outstanding contributions to the advancement of agriculture in the UK; the ‘Research Medal’ for research work of benefit to agriculture; and the ‘Excellence in Practical Farming’ award for farmers/farm managers who are setting a lead for others as practical farmers.

This year’s deserving winners each have a hugely impressive portfolio and as such, the following awards were presented:

  • Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners – Edward Trevor Barnston

Mr Barnston runs an 1800-acre estate south of Chester that has been in the family since the 1300s.

The secret to his success has been managing the Estate in harmony with the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ philosophy of balancing environmental, social and economic needs, so that it can be passed on to the next generation.

His Nuffield report is titled ‘Rural Estates - Benchmarking Success’ and is an effort to create a blueprint which will assist in a period of enormous political and regulatory change.

Following on from receiving the Bledisloe Gold Medal, Mr Barnston commented “Receiving the 2019 Bledisloe Gold Medal award for Landowners is a tremendous honour not only in joining an illustrious list of previous winners, but also to do so in the same year as undertaking a Nuffield Farming Scholarship.  As the owner of Barnston Estate and ably supported by my land agent, Edward Clark of Fisher German, RASE have acknowledged our ongoing drive to enhance the Estate’s sustainable stewardship.

  • Excellence in Business and Practical Farming Award – Timothy Downes

Mr Downes is an organic dairy farmer near Shrewsbury farming 475 cows.

To maximise the milk from grass and pasture productivity, Mr Downes grows diverse swards which include chicory, plantain and clover.

Recognising the potential therapeutic benefits of trees and hedgerows, with Woodland Trust backing, he has planted an area of trees specifically for browsing animals, with a view to improving animal health. Mr Downes ability to farm whilst combining sustainability and profitability, made him an apt winner for this award.

  • The RASE Research Medal – Professor Robert Edwards

Professor Robert Edwards is Head of Agriculture at Newcastle University. His pioneering research on herbicide resistance in weed plants has allowed him to discover a protein in blackgrass that can be used as a biomarker for resistance.

From this he has developed a diagnostic tool that will enable growers and agronomists to determine the degree of resistance, in the field, within 20 minutes of sampling. This will allow for the best possible weed control strategy to be formulated in a timely manner.

  • The National Agricultural Award – John Alvis OBE

John Alvis, Director of Alvis Bros Ltd, produces Cheddar cheese at Lye Cross Farm, in Redhill near Bristol. Milking, 1,200 head of dairy cows, Mr Alvis’ award winning company is well recognised in the UK market, whilst also exporting to over 40 countries.

As well as running Alvis Bros Ltd, which employs over 140 people, Mr Alvis set up FarmLink, an education programme to teach schoolchildren about farming, food and the countryside. Mr Alvis is well known throughout the farming community for his contribution to many organisations, including the Royal Bath and West, the Institute of Agricultural Management and the Nuffield Scholarship trust.

Mr Alvis’ success and dedication to Agriculture has long been recognised prior to receiving this award, in particular having been honoured an OBE in 2018.

Edward Barnston, Timothy Downes and John Alvis OBE are all Nuffield Scholars.

Having presented the 2018 Bledisloe Gold Medal to Lord Downe of Dawnay Estates, the 2019 event was held at Wykeham Abbey allowing for a tour of the estate.

Whilst farming is still a key aspect of the estate, the North Yorkshire Water Park, the Dawnay Estates business park, and Wykeham Mature Plants are all admirable examples of how the Dawney Estates have diversified.

If you know an individual or a business that is a leader in one of these areas, enter them for next year’s awards by contacting Emily Stillwell at ‘emilys@rase.org.uk’.