Zoe Davies has been awarded a Lifetime Fellowship of the NPA, ahead of her departure from the organisation next month.
Zoe will leave the after 14 years, including eight as chief executive, to take up the role of the NFU’s East Anglian regional director at the beginning of August.
At an event in Coventry on Tuesday to celebrate Zoe’s time at NPA, former chairman Richard Lister presented the Fellowship award, which he said the board had bestowed in recognition of her ‘exceptional services to the British pig industry’.
The citation added: “We are hugely indebted to Zoe for her leadership, empathy, passion and dedication in the face of many sustained challenging times for this industry.”
Another former chairman, Richard Longthorp, paid warm tribute to Zoe, as he articulated ‘the sheer respect and affection’ with which she is held by the whole pig industry and beyond.
“Zoe has not just worked for the NPA, she has lived and breathed the pig industry for the past 14 years. She has been its beating heart. I believe her Twitter handle is ‘Mrs Pig’ – how appropriate. How true!” he said.
“Whenever there have been issues – be it a dysfunctional market, disease threats or outbreaks, overzealous and irrational legislation, animal rights incursions or whatever – she has felt the angst and the pain of her members. She has stood in our boots.”
“Every time any of the NPA’s producer members feels that gut wrenching churn in their stomach, so does Zoe. The frequent calls from producers – some concerned and some literally at their wits’ end. More often than not, Zoe would be able to help.”
“Over the past 20 or so years I have been very fortunate to have had the privilege of working alongside some great people, both within the pig industry and wider. And Zoe – you are up there with the very best.”
Chris Brant winner
Zoe was the deserved winner of the 2020 Chris Brant Award and Richard cited the words of one of the judges to sum up Zoe’s impact on the pig industry.
The judge said: “Fulfilling all the criteria, the most important for me is this. Without any exaggeration, there is one person whose absence would have a major, major impact on my business and the UK Pig Industry”
“What that woman has done and continues to do for the industry, on – let’s face it – a shoestring of a budget, is absolutely immense.”
Presenting leaving to Zoe gifts, including the coveted glass pig, from those connected to the NPA, past and present, current chairman Rob Mutimer said, despite the torrid industry times over the past 18 months, he had ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ working with her. “Her level of professionalism is just second-to-none and the effort she put in over the past 18 months has just been remarkable,” he said.
Zoe thanked all those in her ‘pig industry family’ who attended the event. “I love my job and I’m really going to miss it, although I’m very much looking forward to my new adventures,” she said.
“It’s been a wonderful journey with a lot of highs and lows, but more highs than lows, and you are awesome people to work for. It is worth so much getting that appreciation back from people who know that you care and are doing your best. All I have tried to do is do my best – and I hope I have.”
- Pictured, l to r: Current NPA chair Rob Mutimer, former chair Richard Lister, Zoe, and former chair Richard Longthorp.