Excellence in rural Sussex has been celebrated at the CLA’s annual awards presented at the South of England Show.
The CLA, which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses, was delighted to return to Ardingly with a marquee on the main ring once again this year.
On the first day of the show, the CLA hosted an awards presentation and drinks reception to recognise the amazing achievements of individuals, communities and businesses in rural Sussex.
Peter Griggs picked up the President’s Cup, which is awarded in association with Action in Rural Sussex to an individual who has made a significant contribution to rural life in the county.
This year it was presented to Mr Griggs, secretary of Manor Park and Hempstead Fields Residents’ Association, recognising his work and service in supporting his community.
Suzi Lock, of Action in Rural Sussex, said: “I have been inspired by all the great things Peter is involved with. He volunteers tirelessly in his community to secure funding for projects, collaborating with other groups, organising and hosting community events, supporting people to develop their ideas as well as seeking to celebrate historical events.
“Peter is often a visible presence at local events to support the community and, following a suggestion by a resident, he secured funding for a locally hand-crafted commemoration bench. He has also been involved with a lovely project to create a memorial plaque dedicated to the keyworkers during the pandemic, which was a wonderful way to celebrate all their hard work during such difficult times.
“He is such a positive, friendly gent and deserves recognition for all the hard work he puts in to playing an active role to make his community a better place.”
Mr Griggs said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award.
“Although I have personally been awarded the President's Cup, I want to say straight away that my efforts would have come to absolutely nothing at all without the support and commitment of the two dozen or so wonderful volunteers that deliver the services the Association provides in Uckfield.
“This happy band freely give up their time to help those in our community that are disadvantaged, vulnerable or socially isolated. I should also mention Action in Rural Sussex which has kindly helped to fund so many of our initiatives.
“Looking ahead we are hoping to expand our Surgery Car Service, Good Neighbour Scheme and Warm Welcome services across more of Uckfield."
The Woodpecker trophy was awarded to Stuart Reid, of Locksash Farm, the Watergate Estate in West Marden, as nominated by the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG).
Colin Hedley, of FWAG, said: “Like all farm managers, Stuart has to deal with the running of a large and complex farm business during a period of great uncertainty and challenges for the farming industry. Despite this he has always maintained a strong commitment and focus on the environment and delivered a wide range of environmental practice and to a high standard.
“This, his active support of the South Downs Farmers Group cluster and his willingness to work with Portsmouth Water to trial cover crops means he fully deserves to be recognised through receiving the trophy this year.”
On receiving his award, Mr Reid said: “I’m delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Watergate Estate. The estate’s ethos has always been sustainable agriculture alongside environmental enhancement.
“At the moment high yielding crops with ever increasing soil condition improvement together with high song bird numbers and insect rich margins is a path we will continue to travel.”
The Sussex Young Farmer of the Year award was given to Leighton Budinger, who was awarded the CLA Rose Bowl on behalf of Sussex Young Farmers’ Club. He is in his second year as Chair of Chailey District Young Farmers’ Club, in September was unanimously elected as Chair of the Sussex Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and in December took on the role of Chair of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs South East area committee.
Mary Masters, of Sussex Young Farmers, said: “Leighton has opened up many doors in the agricultural world, including meeting MPs and attending the Coronation concert with other Young Farmers’ Club members from across the country.
“At all levels Leighton encourages members who have a passion for farming to take part in the many training opportunities that are on offer, in order that they can push for their dreams within the industry.”
Leighton said: “I’m honoured to win this award, it was a real surprise.
“Young farmers are the next generation, and my main motto is work with nature and it’ll look after you.”
CLA South East Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “It is incredibly important to celebrate the achievements and the service of champions within Sussex’s rural community.
“The recipients of these awards are all deserving of recognition for their commitment and leadership in furthering Sussex agriculture, conservation and communities. The CLA would like to congratulate them all for their contributions and for making such a real difference.”
Before the presentations, CLA President Mark Tufnell gave a talk on the organisation’s recent projects and successes, and thanked the CLA’s show partners Warners Solicitors and Batcheller Monkhouse for their support.
Earlier in the day the Crown Estate’s Paul Sedgwick was the keynote speaker at a breakfast event. Mr Sedgwick, who at Windsor oversees over 16,000 acres including forestry, horticulture, tourism, residential and commercial property activities and manages a team of 200 staff, shared his thoughts on how food production and nature recovery are at the heart of the estate’s work.