Tom Martin, 23, is the winner of the biennial Chris Lewis Award, named after a respected stockman and pedigree sheep breeder who was known for supporting young people.
Tom is a self-employed shepherd based in Norfolk. He started his own contracting shepherd business five years ago and also works as a shearing contractor covering East Anglia.
He has a small flock of pedigree Texel sheep, working to improve their breeding, and in October last year took on Mendhams Farm, a 115-acre Norfolk County Council farm in Outwell, with his partner Hannah.
"A great competition to be involved with"
“I’m delighted to have won – it’s a great competition to be involved with and the money will be a great help. I’ve worked with many of the previous winners so I know what a difference it can make,” he said.
Tom will use the money to invest in an electronic mobile sheep weigh crate, complete with equipment that will record data that can be analysed to help increase the performance of his flock. He also hopes to purchase some sheep for the farm.
Left to Right: Daniel Starkings, Tom Martin, Jane Lewis, Meg Atkins, Holly Lutkin.
Praise for all the finalists
This year, the Norfolk Farmers Trust joined with the Clan Trust to offer a prize pot of £12,000, but the standard was so high each trust added £500 to award £13,000 in total.
The presentation evening was hosted by Richard Hirst and family at Mill Farm, Ormesby St Margaret, with Mr Lewis’s widow Jane presenting the awards after a tractor and trailer tour around the farm.
She said that, despite the challenges facing farming, there was still “much hard work, enthusiasm and ingenuity evident in today’s younger generation”, with a willingness to grasp technological aids to help progress their businesses.
“This was apparent in the applications, asking for financial help with scanning courses and machines, electronic weighing machines, as well as purchases of equipment for a butchery unit, fencing, shearing equipment and also livestock,” she said.
“The competition was extremely strong and the finalists all had excellent parts in their presentations. The committee had long and difficult discussions before deciding on the winner.
“What would Chris Lewis have thought? He didn’t come from a farming background - his father was an impoverished country parson - so he knew very well how hard it was to get established. This is perhaps why he was always so keen to help and encourage young people whenever he could and why this award is made in his name.”
She told the finalists: “He would certainly applaud what each of you is trying to achieve and tell you, above all, to make sure you enjoy what you do and to follow your dreams.”
Meg Atkins of Briston was second, winning £2,000 and in equal third place, receiving £1,500 each, was Daniel Starkings from Clippesby and Holly Lutkin from Norwich.
The other finalists were William Reeve from Wymondham, William Pope from Raveningham near Beccles, Amy Kinge of Wilby near Norwich and Bethany Chapman of Carbrooke.