Awards recognition is the cherry on top of our rollercoaster year

What a rollercoaster 2016 has been!
We started in the pits of depression at the beginning of the year, with prices plummeting, and the outlook was made gloomier by animal rights incursions on so many farms, we could hardly keep up.

The only blot on the brighter skies at the Pig Fair was the awful researcher from Panorama, who wanted to do a hatchet job on the industry over antibiotic use. Although what he got, was a sterling performance from Richard Lister, who showed the pig industry in the perfect light.

Pressure on antibiotic use has continued from all-corners, especially the retail sector. And then we had the fallout from the Brexit vote. Life is never dull!
The year’s crowning moment came at the National Pig Awards, though. The whole NPA team was there, but none of us suspected what was going to happen.

As Richard Longthorp started the citation for the Chris Brant award, I was primed, ready to take a picture of the well-deserving recipient.
Richard said that, this year, there was to be a special honour in addition to the Chris Brant award – how exciting!

However, as I listened to Richard speak about how the winner dealt with animal rights, planning applications and media pressure, I started to get a little indignant. Who was he flipping talking about? That’s what WE do!

But when he mentioned how they feel every stress and strain and were woven into the fabric of the industry, the penny dropped. I looked at Lizzie (Wilson): surely not – staff don’t win awards.

Sure enough, the NPA received a special award for services to the pig industry.
I have to say, it was the proudest, most uplifting experience I have had in a long time. To be honoured by the people you serve is a wonderful thing, and we were all so very touched and very chuffed… Thank you!

It was also lovely to see our chairman, Richard Lister, given the Chris Brant award. While he might often be AWOL, shooting, or on some other jolly, he does work bloody hard, not just on his own units, where he is always grafting or fixing something, but also supporting the NPA team; promoting the industry at the highest level and offering practical advice.

We are lucky to have him – especially with the challenges that we will, no doubt, face next year, including the loss of a vital member of staff. For those of you still unaware, I am happy to announce that Lizzie is off on maternity leave next year, as she is expecting her first child. We’re very excited for her, but she will be very sorely missed.

Finally, I just wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy New Year – let’s hope Brexit continues to make for favourable exchange rates, pigs remain short and prices stay high!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: