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Farmers Weekly Awards 2012 - Farm Manager of the Year The benefits of being a winner
CLAAS UK is delighted to again be sponsoring the Farm Manager of the Year category in the 2012 Farmers Weekly Awards.
Aside from the pride and sense of achievement that are an immediate benefit of winning, success in this category brings far longer term benefits, as 2010 winner Alastair Brooks of Waddesdon Estate explains.
Looking back on the 18 months since he was named the ‘Farm Manager of the Year’ in the 2010 Farmers Weekly Awards, Alastair Brooks says that the benefits, both professionally and personally, have been enormous, and he would actively encourage anyone to enter.
Alastair is the first to admit that having heard he had been nominated, he was extremely reluctant to enter, but he says that it was probably one of the best things he has done.
“Firstly it has brought me a huge amount of personal satisfaction and given a huge boost in confidence. It is definitely a career highpoint,” says Alastair, who manages the 1800ha Waddesdon Estate in Buckinghamshire, which is owned by Lord Rothschild.
“I only agreed to enter if Lord Rothschild agreed, which unfortunately he did! But I have to say he was so supportive and encouraging, it gives me great pride that he obviously had faith in me and what I was doing.”
From a professional point of view, Alastair says that the biggest benefit of winning the title has been the opportunities it has provided and the doors it has opened, which otherwise would have been far harder to achieve.
“It has enabled me to get involved in organisations and to meet people that I would not otherwise have done. It has also benefitted the business in so many ways and helped raise the profile of Waddesdon Farms and what we are doing here. As a result we have been able to expand the business into other areas that we might not have done otherwise, plus it has given my team here a tremendous boost.”
Having grown linseed for a number of years, one new enterprise is to supply and source additional linseed straw for Hemp Technology, who use the fibre within the automotive and paper industries, as well as the manufacture of equine bedding.
Alastair has also been approached and is hosting experiments conducted by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology on behalf of the Environment Agency, Natural England and the RPA to look at the financial viability and practical and scientific reality of the next range of environmental schemes.
Away from the farm, aside from being a judge for the 2011 Awards, where winner Charlie Russell was also named ‘Farmer of the Year’, which Alastair found extremely enlightening, he is also now regularly contacted to give talks and presentations. He works closely with the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants and through the Institute of Agricultural Management, he hosted the 2011 ‘Farm Planner of the Year’ competition.
In addition, as a trustee of the Addington Fund which provides help and assistance to farming families facing hardship due to circumstances beyond their control, Alastair says that the award has also helped raise his profile as a trustee and opened doors for charitable funds and public perception.
Looking back on the benefits that winning has brought, Alastair says he would definitely encourage managers to enter the competition. “Deal with the butterflies you will have in your stomach, have the facts and figures at your fingertips, be prepared for a serious grilling but to also stand up for yourself and argue with the judges if necessary,” he says. “Above all, have confidence in yourself and your ability, because it is a tremendous feeling when you succeed.”
The Farm Manager of the Year award is sponsored by CLAAS UK. To either enter or nominate someone for the award, please either visit the Awards website at www.farmersweeklyawards.co.uk or email email@example.com
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