TWO south west farmers have been recognised for their dedication to the Holstein/British Friesian breeds. 

Three people have received the Holstein UK's Lifetime Achievement Award, for dedicating at least 20 years of service to the breeds. 

Due to the quality of applications, the board of trustees were unable to narrow it down to just one winner. 

One of the winners, Mary Mead, purchased Holt Farm in Blagdon, Somerset in 1961, with her husband Roger. In the Yeo Valley, the 150 acre farm was home to just 35 cows. Due to the fairly heavy land and hugh rainfall, they chose British Friesians. They commenced milk recording and joined the British Friesian Cattle Society, choosing Lakemead as their prefix.

They increased their herd to 150 cows in 1970, when the adjoining 40-acre Lag Farm became available. And Roger ventured into making yohurt in 1972. In the mid-1970s, they launched their first ‘own label’ yogurt products for major retailers, including Waitrose and Sainsburys.

Roger tragically passed away in a farming accident in 1990, and so Mary and her son Tim launched a range of organic yoghurt under the Yeo Valley label. 

In 2012, Mary was awarded an OBE in recognition for her services to sustainable dairy farming, and in 2015, she received the RABDF Princess Royal Award for services to the UK dairy industry.

The second winner of the Holstein UK's Lifetime Achievement Award is Dennis Smith. Dennis joined the young farmers and represented Somerset in National Stock Judging Finals, winning it when he was just 16. He then became the stock judging trainer for the Devon Young Farmers team for many years.

Dennis became the herdsman at the Pottrells herd for R Stafford-Smith where his father was farm manager. He was given the opportunity to keep a cow and so bought a well-bred Terling heifer. This was the start of the Oakroyal herd with the prefix registered when Dennis was 16 years old.

Dennis was offered a job with United Cattle Breeders in establishing this new AI company. The company then became part of CBS where Dennis eventually became a non-executive director.

Over these years, Dennis took up cattle photography for CBS, other AI companies, individual herds nationally and the society. Cows were purchased, bred, developed and sold.  In the early 80’s a tenancy of a farm was taken, together with photography carrying on for a period of time alongside acting as a Buying Agent for cattle for export for British Livestock and LMS.

The herd was developed and entered into the very first Devon Club herds competition winning the small herd section which it continued to win until the entire milking section of the herd was sold to Lanhydrock Estate.

A couple of years after selling the milking herd, the small herd section was won again which continued every year until the herd dispersal. Oakroyal represented Devon and won the southern region of the UK Premier Herd Competition seven times, gaining two thirds and second in the final before winning Champion Herd in 2018. The herd was successfully dispersed the following week averaging £2002 per life which was an extremely high trade at the time.

And finally, Aubrey Greenhalgh, of the Gorsfarm and Enchanted prefixes, won the award. His pedigree journey began with his first purchase in 1960. He has been a member of the Lancashire Holstein Club for most of his life. Aubrey has just stepped down from his position of Vice President of the Lancashire Club having been elected to this position in 1999.

In 1985 he was elected as the first Club Coordinator for the Young Breeders Club which was formerly known as the YMA. During his time as Coordinator the club received an award from Holstein UK for being the first Club in the country to gain 100 young members.

Aubrey was chairman of Great Eccleston Agricultural Show from 1975 – 1985, president from 2001 – 2002, and is still a trustee of the society.

He has purchased more than 15,000 animals for breeders across the UK and Ireland. 

Wallace Gregg, Chairman of Holstein UK, said: “The board of trustees felt that the calibre of entries this year was exceptional and to narrow it down to just one winner was impossible. All three winners have given so much time, knowledge, and dedication to the Holstein and British Friesian breeds."