Doris Jones of Capel Isaac near Llandeilo has just been announced as the winner of the NFU Cymru / Principality Building Society Wales Woman Farmer of the Year competition at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, Builth Wells.Doris Jones inherited her family farm Maesteilo and is a prime example of a woman who has dedicated her life to the practical business of farming as well as bringing up children. In addition, she has made an outstanding contribution to her local community and taken the lead in organisations such as the Llanfynydd Young Farmers Club. Her farm today has grown to cover some 450 acres with 800 sheep, 150 cattle, 10 horses and a variety of other animals such as a pig, goats, all sorts of poultry and bees.
Doris decided at a very young age that what she wanted to do in life was to be a farmer and has stuck to it through thick and thin, taking on the physically demanding roles required on the farm as well as the paperwork.Doris said, “I am thrilled to have won this competition. I made up my mind when I was only six years old that my destiny lay in farming. I believe that women have a vital part to play in farming and in making a positive contribution to the rural Welsh community and the Young Farmers. After all, today’s young generation is the future of Welsh agriculture. I have always believed that taking part is what is important and that winning is a bonus.” The runners up are Penny Chantler, Hill Farm, Llanigon, Haye-on-Wye and Anne Astington, Maespant, Crugybar, Llanwrda. Penny Chantler, who started farming in her 20s, runs Hill Farm on her own and has 330 ewes and produces and selects rams for sale. The flock is recorded and monitored with Genetic Gains in New Zealand, which requires selection for profitability, worm resistance, growth rates and wool quality from grass. As well as running a self-catering accommodation business, Penny helps to organise events such as the Hay Festival and countryside walks for the public. She is also an accomplished sculptor who exhibits her work in galleries locally and further afield.Anne Astington has owned and run her own farm for the past 23 years. Her son, now 27, helps her by doing all the tractor work and “it is very rewarding to slowly see him taking over the farm that I have worked so hard to keep going.” Her involvement with local organisations such as the Women’s Institute “hopefully improves the status of women in farming.” An Oxford graduates who opted for a life in farming, Anne plays a leading role in the Pumsaint Farmers’ Discussion Group and organises country walks. Many local farmers rely on her help when it comes to dealing with Single Farm Payment and Cross Compliance forms.NFU Cymru Deputy President, Stephen James said, “This year’s competition proved to be one of the most difficult to come to a decision as all the candidates are top-notch examples of women in farming. Women in farming are still very much the hidden heroines of the industry.""Very few want to claim the limelight, preferring instead to contribute behind the scenes. Many children have been raised on farms sitting on pushchairs watching mum pull calves or milk cows or drive the tractor and we decided in the end that Doris Jones was the one who most closely matched the criteria. This competition is for ordinary women, who perhaps don’t realise that what they are doing is extraordinary.” Pat Ashman, Sponsorship Manager, Principality Building Society said, “It’s a real pleasure to be involved with such an exciting competition as Wales Woman Farmer of the Year and all three final candidates were extremely strong and close contenders for the title. We are always looking for opportunities to work closely with Welsh communities and this competition allowed us to build on our longstanding relationship with events like the Royal Welsh Show and spend more time with exceptional farmers, who make a huge contribution to Welsh heritage." "It is important that we highlight the contribution of women in farming, a profession largely dominated by men. More and more women are taking the step to start their own business and no matter what the industry, it is important to recognise the fantastic work they are doing. This competition helps to challenge the notion that farming is a man’s role.”Now in its 16th year, the competition aims to celebrate and promote the often forgotten contribution that women make to Welsh farming. The winner received a cheque for £500 and an engraved crystal fruit bowl, while the runners-up received £100 each. The presentation took take place at the NFU Cymru building at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on 26 November.