The National Sheep Association (NSA) brought together more than 480 people to celebrate the UK sheep sector at a special dinner, and used the function to recognise years of tireless work by three key industry contributors.

Held the evening before NSA Sheep 2022 at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, the NSA Sheep Industry Dinner was enjoyed by people from across the sector, getting together for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

With a main course of UK-produced lamb cutlets, provide by Pilgrim’s UK, the three-course dinner was the centrepiece of an evening honouring the sheep sector and all involved in it.

It provided the perfect opportunity to formally present Helen Roberts, a sheep farmer from mid-Wales, with the NSA George Hedley Memorial award for Outstanding Contribution to the sheep sector.

Helen was announced as the 2021 winner in January this year and, with many industry roles to her name, not least organising the NSA Sheep Event, it was apt to present her with the specially sculpted Cheviot sheep statue in front of her friends, colleagues and peers.

Dan Phipps, NSA chairman, praised Helen for her passion for all elements of sheep farming

Phipps said: “There is no more fitting occasion to present Helen with this prestigious accolade than at NSA Sheep 2022, an event that she has brought to fruition, benefitting every person in this room this evening and the very many visitors to the event.

The NSA Bob Payne Memorial Award for Unsung Hero was also presented on the evening, for the first time since 2018.

Specially selected from amongst the hundreds of volunteers and officeholders who are at the heart of NSA, the prize went jointly to husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Carroll Barber of Wymondham, Norfolk.

Jonathan has been active with NSA for a great many years, including a stint as NSA chairman, but the award was specifically for his role as NSA Eastern Region manager – performed with a huge amount of support from Carroll – and from which he is retiring in October 2022.

As a fellow NSA member from NSA Eastern Region, Phipps commented:

“I have watched Jonathan put his heart and soul into NSA roles, not just gathering friends along the way but always pursuing vigorously what he believes is right for NSA and the sheep industry.

"Carroll is always there, quietly making sure it all runs smoothly, and NSA Eastern Region has been incredibly lucky to have their loyal service for so long.

"They will leave the region in great health and in a strong financial position to continue to serve sheep farmers into the future.”