Former NPA chief executive Zoe Leach has received her OBE for services to the pig industry at Buckingham Palace.
Zoe (better known to many in the pig industry by her maiden name of Davies), was chief executive of the NPA for eight years from 2014 until she left to join the NFU as its Eastern regional director last summer. In total, she was at the association for 14, after joining as regions manager in 2008.
Zoe received her OBE from Princess Anne at an investiture ceremony at the palace, with her mum, husband, Adam, and son, Alex, in attendance.
“It was a lovely day, if a little bit surreal from start to finish! Everybody, from the police on the gate to the household staff and all the people who handled the investiture just made you feel completely at ease,” she said.
“And Princess Anne was so easy to chat to. We talked about the challenges of keeping pigs in the woods and the brilliance of sausages, all within the space of about 60 seconds!”
Zoe said she was ‘blown away’ to have been nominated for the OBE in the first King’s Honours List. “I was just doing a job I loved for people I cared about, so I didn’t really understand why I deserved it,” she said.
“As someone I respect very much said to me, I guess it reflects all the hours spent supporting members through one crisis or another and the time, all the time and effort lobbying Government on things that really benefit the industry and in getting Ministers to support the pig sector, for example during the crisis, including agreeing to a review of the pig supply chain.
“Obviously, I am very honoured, and it was a fantastic day.”
Commenting when Zoe received the nomination, NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “Not only has she won countless battles on behalf of the entire industry at Government and supply chain level, but she has formed a unique bond with members, often going above and beyond in supporting them on an individual level.”
Prior to joining NPA, Zoe worked in Defra as a senior scientific officer for five years, having joined from BQP where she ran a pig farm in Suffolk for three years. Between 1995 and 1998 she completed a PhD in pig welfare at the University of Reading, studying the welfare implications of outdoor pig breeding systems.
Zoe won the much-coveted 2020 Chris Brant Award (CBA) in recognition of her ‘massive contribution’ to the British pig industry, and the prestigious David Black Award in 2022.
She was awarded a Fellowship of the NPA when she left the association last summer.