The winner of the 2021 West Country Dairy Awards has been announced.

Max Dunford, 20 years old, from Shepton Mallet has won the prestigious award.

Max is in his final year studying agriculture at Newcastle University.

The awards give grants to people studying dairy-related training courses.

A total of 19 applicants were interviewed at county level with the best five chosen to move on to the Finals Day which this year was hosted by Cornish Mutual. In addition to Max, the other four finalists were: Isobel Bennett (Thorn, Somerset), Gethin Fletcher (Bodmin, Cornwall), Imogen Old (Holsworthy, Devon) and Katie Wreford (Truro, Cornwall).

Richard Kallaway, chairman of the awards said: “It was a close run competition, but Max edged it over the other finalists with his impressive plans for the future and knowledge of share-farming.”

Max has experience working on a 2.5 million acre sheep station running 50,000 merino sheep in Australia.

During the summer he worked on a 3,200 acre farm in Wiltshire (arable and 200 cow autumn calving herd).

On winning the award Max said: “I am honoured to have won such a historic, important award.

"I am really looking forward to next year when I can step out into the real world, when I want to move into regenerative spring calving.

"The interview process was really exciting and helped me express my ambitions and opinions about all aspects on dairy farming”.

Max was presented with his bronze cow trophy and a cheque for £2,000.

The remaining four finalists received £1,000 each to spend on dairy-related training.

This year, thanks to its sponsors, the charitable organisation distributed over £15,000 to young people looking to further their skills within the dairy industry.

The awards are open to anyone living in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset or Dorset.

The fund is sponsored by A C Mole, Arla Foods, Azets, Barber’s, Bath & West of England Society, Cogent UK, Cooper and Tanner, Cornish Mutual, Crediton Dairy, Dairy Crest Direct, Devon County Agricultural Association, Glastonbury Festival, Harpers Feeds, Lye Cross Farm, Mole Valley Farmers, Mount Vets, NFU, Old Mill, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, Saputo Dairy UK, Synergy Farm Health, Trewithen Dairy and Wyke Farms.