‘Black Farmer’ and mash boss named in New Year’s Honours

The ‘Black Farmer’, a vet who helped Scotland achieve TB-free status, and a prominent Northern Ireland agri-businesswoman are among those in food and farming on the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.

The New Year’s Honours recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the UK.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones – also known as ‘The Black Farmer’ – will be made an MBE for services to British Farming.

Emmanuel-Jones was born in Jamaica but moved to Birmingham with his parents in 1961.

His successful television career gave him the capital to buy Higher West Kitcham Farm, on the border of Devon and Cornwall in St. Giles on the Heath, Launceston, which he continues to farm.

He was given the nickname ‘The Black Farmer’ by locals who helped him, which inspired him to set up a food brand of the same name.

He has since become involved in setting up the Black Farmer Scholarship, which aims to help and encourage ethnic minorities to work in the rural community.

The scholarship was featured on Channel 4 series ‘Young Black Farmers’, which sees him show a group of nine inner-city school leavers from ethnic minorities how to work on his Devon farm.

Co. Down woman Tracy Hamilton (pictured centre) co-founded prepared vegetable firm Mash Direct as a means to make her family’s farm profitable.

Today, the business is one of the most successful examples of farm diversification in the region, exporting its potato and root vegetable products as shipped as far apart as New York and Dubai.

Since it was founded in 2004, Mash Direct has grown from 70ac to 1,400ac and now employs almost 200 people.

Hamilton was awarded an MBE for her services to the Northern Ireland Agri-Food Sector.

Gloucestershire dairy farmer Tim Merrett, was also among those in line for an MBE.

Merrett is one of three farmers working closely with rural education charity Countryside Classroom to facilitate farm visits for local school children and will be given the honour for his services to education.

The charity uses the visits to teach children about food, farming and the natural environment.

Peter Barfoot, founder and chairman of Barfoots of Botley made the list for services to Sustainable Farming.

The Hampshire semi-exotics grower started out in 1976 and today farms 7,000ac in the UK and 2,500ac in Senegal. In 2007, 35 million cobs were harvested from the company’s farms in Hampshire.

Other well-known faces in farming include Royal Highland and Agricultural Society chairman Willie Gill, who will be made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the Agriculture Sector in Scotland.

Fellow Scot, Orkney Auction Mart auctioneer and manager John Copland, was awarded an MBE for services to Agriculture and the Rural Community in Scotland (Orkney).

Animal health honours

Several vets and animal health professionals also made the list. Dr. Martyn Blissitt, a Scottish Government veterinary advisor, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to veterinary and animal health.

Blissitt was appointed as veterinary advisor to the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) in 1997. His highlights in the job include achieving TB-free status for Scotland in 2009.

Also recognised for services to animal health was Prof. Ian Brown, head of Virology at Animal and Plant Health Agency – Weybridge and director of EU/OIE/FAO International Reference Laboratories for Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease and Swine Influenza.

Ian Davidson, the Scottish Government’s former head of Agricultural Policy Division, was also appointed an OBE for his services to agriculture in Scotland.

Department staff

Several Defra staff were recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

This year’s list includes Defra group permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein, who has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Bath for her services to the public sector.

Others from the department honoured include Defra director Emma Bourne for services to public administration, and Gabrielle Edwards, deputy director of Chemicals, Pesticides and Hazardous Waste, who was recognised for her services to the environment.

Defra team leader Tony Hitching and Andrew Carroll, senior executive officer, will also both become Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for their efforts in voluntary service.

In Northern Ireland, former DAERA permanent secretary was among those honoured. Lavery, who is now the Department of Economy permanent secretary was recognised for his services to the Government in Northern Ireland.

Bernard McCullagh, a DAERA staff officer, was also honoured for voluntary service to the community in Northern Ireland (Co. Londonderry).

Non-farming honours

The 2020 list celebrates a range of extraordinary young people across the UK.

MBEs are awarded to:

  • 25-year-old Yusuf Patel for his work in tackling extremism in London;
  • 21-year-old award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason; and
  • 27-year-old Mete Coban, the co-founder of My Life My Say, for his work transforming youth engagement in democracy.

This year, over half the recipients are women, including 44% of awards at the highest levels.

There are damehoods for the chief executive of Citizens’ Advice, Gillian Guy, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Prof. Lesley Regan, and chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership, Sharon White.

To mark the start of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ in 2020, 12 nurses and five midwives who have dedicated their lives to helping others and improving healthcare in the UK receive honours at OBE, MBE and BEM level.

Famous names include singer-songwriter and activist Sir. Elton John and historian Sir. Keith Thomas, who both become Companions of Honour.

There are damehoods for entertainer and charitable fundraiser Olivia Newton-John, a knighthood for film and theatre director Sam Mendes and CBEs for actress Wendy Craig; DJ Annie Nightingale; veteran radio critic Gillian Reynolds; and screenwriter Steven Knight.