First Russ Carrington Award announced

Andy Rumming and his family who farm on the upper reaches of the River Thames, are the recipients of the first Russ Carrington Award – which will be awarded annually from now on.

Russ, who led the PFLA for many years, said he was honoured and delighted to be presenting an award that bears his name. However, it is really an award for members – to recognise their hard work, dedication and contributions to the PFLA movement.

He explained that the PFLA team wanted a notable and befitting trophy that could  create a talking point and grab attention. Dung beetles are one of the unsung heroes of pasture eco-systems, and real engineers of soil by helping convert dung into soil. A bronze sculpture is seen as a fitting prize for this award.

Sally-Anne Spence, of dung beetle fame, helped develop the design and model it on a real dung beetle specimen to ensure all details are correct.

The species is Geotrupes spiniger and it’s one of eight species in this group of dung beetles (Dor beetles), which are the UK’s biggest in size and classified as tunnellers.

This species is associated with cattle, sheep and horse dung. It excavates a burrow beneath the dung which it stocks with dung for larval development. Active from May to October, these beetles fly at dusk using their sense of smell through their clubbed antennae.

The award

The award has been made by bronze sculptor Mairi Hunt. Her parents were farmers and sculpture has always been her passion starting from an early age digging clay from the ditches on the farm and turning it into animal sculptures.

Her first full time job was as an apprentice with the acclaimed ceramics company Border Fine Arts specialising in animal sculpture. Following her marriage she travelled widely before returning to her husband’s family home on Dartmoor where they have farmed and raised their two children.

Mairi works from her studio in the beautiful secluded Dartmoor valley where she lives creating original animal sculptures in bronze. Read more about Mairi here

The judges

The team who judged the award represented the diversity of the PFLA membership, in their age, occupation and geographic location. They were:

  • Vicky Robinson, Nuffield Scholar and Natural England project manager, Oxfordshire
  • Olly Spence, young beef farmer, Wiltshire
  • Denise Walton, farmer-butcher-retailer, Scottish Borders
  • Tom Morrison, farmer, Buckinghamshire
  • Russ Carrington

This year’s winner will join the judging panel next year.

Judging criteria

There were five criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Benefit to the PFLA movement
  • Effectiveness of communication
  • Impact
  • The Russ Carrington Factor – incorporating inspiring change, patience, attention to detail, having a ‘we’re all on a journey together’ attitude, identifying how each member has something unique to contribute, building relationships and influencing people

There were three candidates who were all very different, but the scores were remarkably close.

And the winner is…

Andy Rumming who runs a beef enterprise with his father and brother on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border. He rapidly developed an online farm shop to continue selling beef once Covid-19 hit and has supported other members and farmers in his area.

He shares much on the PFLA members’ forum, on social media and on PFLA webinars and hosted the PFLA’s first virtual study tour, making it incredibly interactive out in the field and inside his converted 1960’s van which is going to be used for glamping.

He relentlessly promotes both the PFLA to other farmers and Pasture for Life to consumers and is always developing markets for the 5th quarter of his animals, from beef hearts on skewers, to fine leather goods, with high environmental standards and showing that a premium can come from having a nose-to-tail approach.

On hearing the news Andy was surprised and delighted.

“The PFLA are such positive people and are the type that will always say ‘yes’ to whatever the request may be,” he said.

“Belonging to the membership brings many conversations and benefits and has really helped us shape our business. Winning this award is awesome and now means I might have finally to build a mantelpiece to place it on!”

The dung beetle sculpture will be handed to Andy later this year.

To read more about Andy’s farm read a recent article about him in the Stockman Grass Farmer.

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