Tyrone man sweeps up in tidy farm competition

A Co. Tyrone dairy farmer became the winner of the first ever National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Mutual Tidy Farmyard Award at this year’s Balmoral Show.

Devised to demonstrate the importance of a safe working environment, the competition attracted 60 entries from farmers across Northern Ireland.

Over the course of two days, a panel of judges travelled over 450 miles visiting the six shortlisted farms to see for themselves how safety has been made the priority in the workplace.

The winner, Gareth Kee, runs Castle Mervyn Farm in Trillick, Co. Tyrone, alongside his father, Norman.

The father-of-three was commended for clearly demonstrating his commitment to maintaining a well-kept farmyard, and the positive impact this can have on efficiency and safety.

Runners-up

Second place was awarded to Allan Chambers of Cottage Farm. The judges noted how the holding is a “beautifully-maintained” mixed arable and poultry farm in Co. Down.

In joint third place were Thomas Steele from Rowreagh Farm in Kircubbin, also in Co. Down, and Paddy Donnelly who farms near Ballymena, Co. Antrim.

Designed to raise awareness of the good practice of Northern Ireland’s farmers in today’s modern industry, the idea for the awards came from NFU Mutual’s staff and its network of agents in Northern Ireland.

Entries were initially judged on four photographs which showed how each farm addressed the challenges of maintaining an efficient tidy farmyard. The judges visited the six finalists to get a detailed picture of how they address safety on their farms.

The award judges were: Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation; Barclay Bell, former president UFU; Malcolm Downey, of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI); and Martin Malone, NFU Mutual manager for Northern Ireland.

“We’re delighted that the awards have created so many excellent entries and has also raised awareness of farm safety ahead of silaging and harvesting – one of the most risky periods in the farming calendar,” said Malone.

Visiting the finalists showed much can be done to reduce the risk of farm accidents by removing risk, wherever possible, and protecting people from what remains.

“I am hugely impressed by the positive mindset of the finalists and their determination to make safety their first priority on their farms.

“It was a tough task to decide the overall winner; however, Gareth Kee’s careful planning of a safe farmyard and attention to detail were the deciding factor,” he said.

‘Not necessary expensive’

“Seeing how the finalists had approached managing the potential hazards of a busy farmyard, also shows it’s not necessarily expensive, or time-consuming, to put safety first. It’s more about your mindset and making sure that everyone on the farm understands the need for safety.

“As a mutual insurer, which is closely connected with most of Northern Ireland’s farms, we are all too aware of the heartbreak farm accidents cause. We set up the awards to show what can be done to make farmyards safer, and to reward farmers who really have gone the extra mile to make their farms safe,” said Malone.

The awards were run with support from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, HSENI and the Farm Safety Foundation – the charity set up by NFU Mutual to help farmers work safely.