Employees on pig and poultry farms in North Lincolnshire, UK — Georgina Cherrill and Andrew Hall — are the 2009 winners of the Pfizer Trainee of the Year Awards.
The awards, each worth more than £2500, were presented by Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister for Farming and the Environment, at a ceremony at the House of Commons on November 5.
The current awards, now in their third year, were introduced by Pfizer Animal Health in conjunction with the journals Pig World and Poultry World, recognising the importance of training in helping UK producers to meet higher animal welfare and food safety standards in an increasingly competitive market.
Georgina Cherrill works on the Heath breeder unit of Ermine Farms, Grayingham, near Gainsborough, which supplies pigs for fresh pork production for Vion UK Ltd. She had no previous work experience with pigs when she joined them in September 2007 after gaining a National Diploma in animal management at Riseholme College. Through Agskills and other training, she has since achieved a Certificate of Competence at Level 2 and expects to gain Level 3 next year.
Her employers arranged a two-week work placement on a Danish farm in August to broaden her experience. She plans to use the award for management study to further her career — working towards achieving, in her own words, “the best welfare standards at all times to gain maximum output of British pork.”
The judging panel — Richard Longthorp, the pig industry training supremo, industry consultant Gerry Brent and veterinary surgeon Dave Roberts of Pfizer Animal Health — said Georgina had embraced training to contribute more effectively to the unit where she works and to deal with specific problems, resulting in sustained improved performance. They added: “In addition, she was able to demonstrate the importance of good and well structured communication within a team of workers and how this contributes to more effective unit output.”
The judges interviewed seven candidates. “All seven would have been outstanding ambassadors for their industry,” said Mr Longthorp, chairman of the judges. “The high standards of entrants is a testament to the real inputs being made by many pig producers now to inform and enthuse their staff and to commit to assisting them in a successful career.”
Runners-up for the pig award are Roger Johnston who runs 160 sows and finishers, Ballygoney Pigs, with his father at East Moneymore, near Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, and Richard Battersby who works on LSB Pigs 920-sow outdoor weaner at Pott Row, near King's Lynn, supplying pigs for BQP.