A surreal but uplifting experience

Attending the Woman of the Year awards recently was one of the most surreal events of my life.

Still bemused as to how I managed to end up being invited, I joined more than 400 other ladies, many of whom were similarly confused. I settled at my table and discovered that on my left was a lady who runs the entire government estate and was involved in advising on Grenfell, and on my right, a woman who had worked in security for the Obama administration and been in Syria, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

Hilariously, they were fascinated by the pig industry so I was happy to fill their boots. The chairwoman, Sandi Toksvig, congratulated us for being exceptional women making a difference in our professions. Before I knew what was going on, Camilla (Duchess of Cornwall) popped up on stage (would explain the sniffer dogs) and said a few words before the main awards, which befittingly went to women working in the emergency services following this year’s terrorist attacks.

I was surrounded by celebs: Baroness Karren Brady, someone else from Strictly Come Dancing and BBC newsreader Louise Minchin to name a few. I bumped into Prue Leith in the ladies, but decided not to tell her I’d shopped her to Trading Standards for feeding Bake-Off leftovers to her neighbours’ pigs and congratulated Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on her birthday. It was a very odd but strangely uplifting experience, so I’m glad I went.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we had a positive meeting with Jane King and Tom Hind at AHDB. Key to our discussion was voicing members’ concerns about Mick Sloyan’s replacement as pork strategy director. Jane assured us they would work hard to find the right person, although we all accept it will be impossible to find another Mick! They are also working hard to replace all the people they have lost and improve staff retention.

Andrea (Vickers) and I are planning a spring banner campaign in anticipation of the price slump next year to help promote pork and increase consumption – hopefully tying in with the second phase of AHDB Pork’s healthy mid-week meals campaign. To that end, we will be looking for catchy slogans and banner sites so please keep an eye on the NPA website and get involved!

Now that antibiotic usage figures have been published, our jolly chums at the Alliance are trying to play down the excellent progress you’ve made in reducing antibiotics by telling the press that you’re stuffing your pigs full of zinc oxide instead (which isn’t true) so we’ve enjoyed setting the record straight!

Nominations for NPA elections have started to trickle in slowly – but we’ve only had one producer brave enough to put his name forward so far! I know I keep droning on, but these next few years will be absolutely crucial for the pig industry and it’s incredibly important we get it right, so please put your name forward – go on…what’s the worst that can happen?!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: www.npa-uk.org.uk