Agri-business leaders among IoD NI director of the year finalists

Business leaders from the agricultural sector are among the finalists revealed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) for the Northern Ireland Director of the Year Awards.

The awards, this year marking their 10th anniversary, celebrate excellence across the public, third, and private sectors with judges choosing 42 entrants to make the shortlist.


Trevor Lockhart and Glenn Speer of Fane Valley are shortlisted in the Large Business and Young Director of the Year categories respectively.

The shortlist also features several leading food and drink figures including Gareth Irvine of The Copeland Distillery who is nominated in the Young Director of the Year category; Gavin Annon, Mount Charles Group, who makes the Family Business shortlist; and Michael McCormack of Musgrave Group, who is in the running in the Large Business category.

Meanwhile, Terry Cross of Hinch Distillery, and Brian Reid, Deli Lites, are among the International category finalists.

In order to adhere with government guidelines on social distancing, the winners will be announced at a scaled-down ceremony to be held at The Merchant Hotel, Belfast in September.

Gordon Milligan, IoD NI chairman, said: “The last number of months have been extraordinary as we have all adapted to new ways of doing business and a new way of doing life in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In many respects, it has brought out the very best in the Northern Ireland business community as some firms changed their focus to help the national effort to beat the virus, and many others pulled together to support each other financially and in other ways.

“It proved once again the tremendous calibre of business leaders in the region which will also be showcased at our annual Director of the Year Awards.

“Congratulations go to all those to have made the shortlist and we very much look forward to safely celebrating with you at our ceremony in September.”

Also to be awarded on the day will be the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice, sponsored by AIB, while the ceremony will also see the inaugural presentation of the Philanthropist of the Year, Community Foundation Northern Ireland award.

Adrian Moynihan, head of AIB NI, added: “The last few months have delivered a serious test of leadership across all walks of life.

“As we emerge from Covid-19 lockdown and begin to focus on rebuilding the economy, strong leadership across the business sector will be crucial to our success.

“As we face the twin challenges of the pandemic fallout and the impending Brexit implications, what better time to recognise and celebrate the leaders making a real difference in Northern Ireland.

This year’s shortlist is very impressive and highlights a clear commitment to strong and innovative leadership that is undoubtedly contributing to the success of their respective organisations and Northern Ireland as a whole.

“We commend all those who entered this year’s awards and look forward to joining with them and IoD to celebrate the exceptional leaders making a significant impact on Northern Ireland’s future success. While this year’s event may be delivered differently its purpose and importance has never been more relevant.”

The awards ceremony, which will be attended by finalists and sponsors only to ensure social distancing, will take place on Friday, September 11.