Meryl Ward has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her work on pig welfare.
She was a key member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (now a committee) for many years, during which time it did some ground-breaking work to produce highly-acclaimed science-based reports for government.
She also worked (on behalf of BPEX) on the welfare outcomes, helping transform work by academics into a practical mechanism for measuring real welfare indicators in farm animals. This work is in the process of revolutionising animal welfare philosophy in the EU, where the emphasis is now moving to real, benchmarked, science-based indicators.
Meryl and her husband Steve farm a large arable enterprise in Lincolnshire, with 2,200 sows, and run a successful farm shop and restaurant, Uncle Henry’s. They have two sons and a daughter Graham, Emma and Sam.
Speaking about her award, Meryl said she was particularly pleased that it recognised the work of the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which carried out high-quality and challenging work at a time when animal welfare science was dramatically changing the face of animal welfare.
Paying tribute to the outstanding work of one of her colleagues on the council, Professor Sandra Edwards, of Newcastle University, she said she hoped Government would revisit the Farm Animal Welfare Council reports, recognise their value, and act on their advice.
She also hoped that the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, which has replaced the Farm Animal Welfare Council, would be valued for the contribution it is capable of making to genuine animal welfare.
But Meryl is treasured in the pig sector for many talents, not least her skills as an implacable campaigner on behalf of causes she believes are just and worthy. It was Meryl who, in 1999, chartered a train to deliver 600 Northern pig producers to Trafalgar Square, and who subsequently led a Judicial Review into the then Ministry of Agriculture’s treatment of the British pig industry.
Meryl was also a key figure in setting up Agskills, which went on to transform skills development in the British pig industry, and ultimately has led to greater emphasis on continuous professional development in the British farming sector as a whole.