Sarah is Women in Agriculture Awards finalist

17 May 2024

Sarah Bell

A Midlands farmer and NFU LNR officeholder was honoured after being named a finalist at a new awards ceremony that recognises and rewards women in agriculture.

Sarah Bell, who farms on the Northamptonshire and Rutland border, was one of three women named in the Farming Woman of the Year category at the inaugural National Women in Agriculture Awards.

The livestock farmer, who is an NFU Council delegate representing farmers across Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, was named alongside Abi Reader MBE, a dairy farmer who is NFU Cymru Deputy President and Claire Wright, of Clive Soanes Broilers.

All three were at last week’s awards ceremony in the House of Commons and were recognised for making an outstanding contribution to their farms and drawing attention to farming issues more widely to benefit the whole sector.

Sarah works in her family business Scott & Scott Ayston Ltd and through the Castle Chase Foods brand sells home grown beef, lamb and venison from the farm to the local community. 

She has also expanded the business further running Castle Chase Cottages which are three luxury self-catering barn conversions.


At the awards, Abi Reader was named category winner but Sarah said she was surprised just to have been nominated and delighted to have been at the event as a finalist among such high profile and capable women.

“Like many other women in agriculture I juggle farming, family, diversification and industry commitments,” she said.

“Women are so often the ones carrying the burden of this, so it is important that we are in the room in organisations that represent us as farmers, like the NFU and AHDB to ensure that our perspective is offered.

“While sometimes it feels that you don’t make a difference a lot of the time you do, even without realising it, by being a welcoming face, offering an alternative perspective or by being the person that proves to others they too can make a difference”.

Sarah said she enjoyed working behind-the-scenes for the industry on issues like British standards, on digital grain passports and farm data governance as they were all things that were ‘for the long-term future of farming and would help to hold value at the farm end of the supply chain’.

“I think it is important to give a little back along the way, as it is all too easy to feel that the policy spinning towards us as farmers is beyond our control.”

Sarah Bell

“Helping other people into these roles is very close to my heart, how the world of agriculture worked wasn’t always clear to me and I have hit barriers along the way,” she said.

“I spend a lot of time helping others to ‘decode’ and avoid those barriers, it is so important we have a broad range of people volunteering across the industry, the old adage of ‘if you can’t see it you can’t be it’ really is true.

“Agriculture needs the brightest and the best, we are all farmers first, age, race, gender, sexuality and experience should never be a barrier.”

Worthy nomination

Jane Bassett, NFU regional board chair, said that Sarah was a more than worthy candidate who made a real difference for all farming sectors across the Midlands.

“The work and knowledge that Sarah does both regionally and nationally across many sectors is outstanding,” she said.

“Not only that she is always there to help others with knowledge, support and encouragement.

“A worthy nomination from the Midlands region and we are pleased that she has had the recognition she deserves.”

The awards were judged by a panel of female food and farming leaders including Tonia Antoniazzi MP and the evening was hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield.

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