By Zoe Purcell • Published on 6th June, 2023
Under a blue sky on the main lawn, joint Society presidents Lord and Lady Radnor presented Gerald Hussey, Andrew Hedditch, and Charlie Oram with Long Service Awards, recognising their long standing hard work and service to agriculture.
“Their dedication and service warrants the upmost recognition and we are delighted to present them with this award,” said honorary show director, Rupert Uloth. “Combined, their service totals 157 years with Mr Hussey, Mr Hedditch, and Mr Oram dedicating 70, 45 and 42 years to farming and the rural community, respectively.”
Leaving school at 15-years old, Mr Hussey started working for the Longman family at Snagg Farm in Ditcheat, near Shepton Mallet, milking cows by hand and ploughing with horses, witnessing the introduction of milking apparatus and tractors to the farm.
Thereafter he carried out rabbit control work for, what was, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). Later moving to the Barber family’s operation also in Ditcheat, working with pigs, carrying out maintenance and gardening work. “The award was a complete surprise,” said Mr Hussey.
“I’m very grateful. You don’t think so much of it as a service – it’s just a way of life.”
Mr Uloth said: “Mr Hussey’s experiences over his lifetime bare witness to extraordinary change in farming, and he has remained adaptive and committed throughout his service.”
For Mr Hedditch, he left school in 1977 and went straight into work for the late Lincolnshire farmer, John Godfrey. For the last 23 years he has worked for the Stevens family at Warren Farm, Old Frome Road near Wells. “I’m chuffed on receiving this award – it’s an honour,” said Mr Hedditch.
And Mr Uloth highlighted his commitment to agriculture. “Mr Hedditch has worked in agriculture for all of his working life and is a worthy recipient of this award,” he added.
Mr Oram started work at Dugdales Farm in Compton Basset, near Calne in 1981, and quickly began harvest and cultivation work. Over the years he has garnered a depth of experience and gained the position of farm foreman. He continues to drive the combine harvester each summer, looks after store cattle through to finishing, carries out fertilising and spraying, grain store management and many other farm jobs. “The award was a surprise and I’m very grateful to receive the recognition,” said Mr Oram. “It really is a way of life for me.”
It was his enthusiastic attitude that made him stand out. “Mr Oram’s enthusiasm is his number one attribute followed very closely by his reliability, which is exemplary,” concluded Mr Uloth.
From long-standing service to the those on the cusp of their career, the Farm Vet of the Future Award recognised and celebrated the talent of the next generation of farm vets.
“We are pleased to have introduced the new Farm Vet of the Future Award,” said Paddy Gordon, director and farm vet at Shepton Vets, presenting the award.
“We asked final year vet students to share and demonstrate how they see farm veterinary practices developing with a piece of course work, as well clearly explaining what they think a farm vet of the future looks like.”
Winning the award, Nottingham University vet student Heather Hemingway-Arnold, impressed the judges with her Masters dissertation on investigating the use of technology and production data to predict lameness in dairy cows. And gave a detailed insight as to what she believed to be the farm vet of the future.
“She showed great insights and self assurance in presenting to the judges. She really has a good grasp on the future role of farm vets; supporting high UK animal welfare, providing training to farmers and practising evidence-based veterinary medicine,” said Mr Gordon.
“She also demonstrated adaptability, and had a clear understanding of the importance of working within a vet-led team to improve animal health and the efficiency and sustainability of production.”
On winning the award Miss Hemingway-Arnold said that what was most important to her was to be a true champion of agriculture. “I’m thrilled to have won the award – it’s a shock, I didn’t expect to win,” she added. “For me the farm vet of the future encompasses practicing veterinary medicine and using progressive research and technology in the best possible way to support the growth and sustainability of livestock production.
“And being active in the support of education, mental health and community.”
Runner-up Aiden Coe – a student at the Royal Veterinary College – mapped out the future of the farm vet as a custodian of the farming industry. “Aiden showed a consideration to how farm vets can actively promote agriculture’s place in modern culture,” said Mr Gordon.
“He also showed great ingenuity in his work using infrared camera technology to identify lameness location in cows, and determination to take his research forward.”
On receiving his award Mr Coe also expressed a keenness to promote more activity in education around agriculture. “I am very happy to receive the accolade – it’s great to receive the recognition,” he said. “I feel very strongly about education; a lot of the problems the sector faces with perception comes from a gap in public education. I want to be more involved in making change and I believe this award will help me in my endeavours.”
Both our chosen winner and runner-up are exemplary, added Mr Gordon. “Each are expecting their final examination results in the coming weeks, and we wish them the very best of luck as they start their professional careers.”