Farm minister’s award to Norfolk pig specialist

Farming minister Jim Paice presented a professional award to a Norfolk pig specialist at the House of Commons.

Helen Hooks, who was twice runner-up in the Pfizer trainee of the year competition, was also given a glass trophy and British Pig Executive pig industry professional register award.

Helen, who worked on Breckland outside units was a Pfizer finalist last year and also in 2008. She now works for BQP, (British Quality Pigs), across East Anglia.

The latest awards, each of a �2,000 training grant, were presented by Mr Paice. The poultry category winner, James Newman, manages a large duck rearing unit near Woodbridge for Gressingham and the pig award winner was Christopher Rose, of Nottinghamshire, who is now assistant manager on an 850-sow weaner production farm.

It is the 10th year that Pfizer has sponsored a pig training award, initially given to producers within the Agskills group.

The three judges of the pig award, Richard Longthorp, chairman of Lantra England, industry consultant Gerry Brent and Dr Dan Tucker, of Cambridge University school of Veterinary Medicine, were impressed the skills of the finalists.

For the first time, the poultry trainee winner was chosen by a judging panel including John Newton, senior poultry consultant of ADAS, Phil Clarke, editor of Poultry World, and James Porritt, national poultry manager, of Pfizer.

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They were impressed that Mr Newman while working for Green Label Farms, gained NVQ Level 3 in poultry production. He was the top poultry student at Easton College, near Norwich, in 2005.

He had detailed knowledge of the Green Label Farms duck and goose units he had worked on, and had brought his training back to the workplace to share with others at one of the company's largest units, often used as a showpiece for visitors.

'James has a clear vision of where he wants to be in the medium term, helping to co-ordinate the contract farms for Green Label, and how he could get there with further training in staff management,' they said.

The runners-up for the pig award were Catherine O'Dell, of JSR Farms, at Southburn, Driffield, East Yorkshire, and Emily Ward, of Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire.

And Provimi (formerly SCA NuTec) has developed a new graduate training programme. It has taken on its first recruit, Jonathan McKechnie, formerly of Writtle College, with a degree in agriculture and business management in July 2009. He gained practical experience on a pig unit and retail business in Essex and was now spending three months working on a unit at Larling, near Attleborough.