The National Sheep Association (NSA) has named Bob Kennard as the 2022 recipient of its NSA Bob Payne Unsung Hero award.

The award is specially selected from amongst the hundreds of volunteers and officeholders who are at the heart of the work of NSA.

Bob was recognised for his work alongside NSA on several key projects that have helped to promote artisan sheep meat products, ensuring continued consumption of mutton.

As well as this Bob has been relentless in his campaign to ensure the future of small, independent abattoirs.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “There couldn’t be a more worthy winner of the NSA’s 2022 Bob Payne Memorial Award for our unsung hero than Bob Kennard.

“Bob has worked tirelessly and well beyond expectations on our work to create opportunities for, and to ensure a future for Britain’s native sheep breeds through NSA’s work on the British Heritage Sheep project.

“We still have a long way to go with this initiative, but it holds huge potential in my opinion, and when it starts really bearing fruit it will be down to Bob’s tenacity, commitment, and determination.”

Bob’s career has seen him working in the meat industry for many years including the development of one of the first organic meat businesses in the UK.

With his business entirely dependent on small local abattoirs, Bob was soon alerted to the difficulties they faced as an increasing number closed due to spiralling costs of regulations.

This led Bob to write a report highlighting their dramatic decline for the Soil Association and a subsequent follow up report with the Sustainable Food Trust.

His work in this area continues as small abattoir numbers are still declining. Without these abattoirs there can be no fully traceable local meat, local food initiatives will be lost, as well as a useful income for many farmer-retailers.

Bob worked alongside NSA in the promotion of mutton and is now involved in the British Heritage Sheep project promoting the UK’s unique diversity of sheep meat, particularly the native breeds.

The scheme is still under development but has so far received very positive support from all aspects of the supply chain, from producers to consumers.

On receiving the award, Bob said:

“I feel very honoured to have been given the NSA Bob Payne award. I am proud to have been involved with NSA through my work.

“NSA supports so many sheep farmers and helps the industry in so many ways, often unseen. I have no doubt Phil Stocker and his staff will help steer the sheep sector through these turbulent and unpredictable times.”