A Cumbrian farmer has been awarded one of the UK sheep industry's highest accolades for his outstanding contribution to the sector.
A recognisable face to many sheep farmers, John Geldard has been named as the 2020 recipient of the NSA George Hedley Memorial Award.
Currently farming near Kendal, John began his career more than 45 years ago after securing a tenancy on a Lake District National Trust tenanted hill farm.
He then progressed to develop a mixed farming business, management of which now having been passed to sons Richard and Charles.
The family-owned business now employs 25 staff and features a beef, sheep and a layer enterprise, together with Plumgarths Farm Shop Ltd, managed by daughter Victoria.
The enterprise also includes an egg packing station that benefits numerous other local farms, providing a service to contract their eggs ready for marketing to retailers and to the foodservice industry.
An avid networker, both at national and regional level, John has chaired more than 20 industry groups and organisations.
He has served in numerous roles within the National Sheep Association (NSA), including Northern Region Chairman, National Chairman and now Vice President.
He is also currently a director of Farmers Fresh, Director of North West Auctions, and Vice President of the Lleyn Sheep Society, who nominated John for this award.
Responding to the award, John said he is 'extremely honoured' to be named as its latest recipient.
“Throughout my time working in the sheep sector I have always held the George Hedley award in the highest regard for the very high calibre individuals that have been recognised by this in the past,” he said.
“It must be recognised that NSA punches far above its weight in terms of its efforts to represent the sheep industry and the activities it is part of in doing this on a UK-wide scale.
“I do not consider any other organisation represents one sector of the agricultural industry so effectively.”
Looking to the future, he added that funding arrangements are going to be 'difficult' for the industry to continue to supply the highest quality food.
“NSA has always been prepared to accept the changes our industry has encountered and move forward with these but at this time we now have a responsibility to put forward our own ideas for change to the government to ensure farmers are supported for the future and that public money is spent wisely on public goods such as sustainable food production,” John said.
NSA has presented the George Hedley Memorial Award annually since 1960. It is given to honour the memory of George Hedley, a highly respected farmer from the Scottish borders who was involved with the NSA for many years.
It was while he was chairman, travelling to a council meeting in London on 26 January 1960, that he was tragically killed in a car accident.