Highly regarded sheep farmer recognised with prestigious award

27th January 2022

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is delighted to announce Helen Roberts as the 2021 recipient of the NSA George Hedley Memorial Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the sheep industry. In addition to her wide-ranging personal interests in many aspects of the sheep industry Helen is NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer and Corporate Sales Manager.

Helen has long been involved with the industry, working with her father on their ‘Horton’ flock of Suffolk sheep and with her husband Clive on the England/Wales border where they keep 500 Welsh Mules, Texel and Beltex cross ewes in addition to small pedigree flocks of Beltex and Blue Faced Leicesters. Helen has also taken on wide-ranging commitments and activities on several committees, as a director of Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers, for the past 18 years as Secretary followed by Regional Development Officer for NSA Cymru / Wales Region, and during the past decade as Corporate Sales Manager for NSA.

On receiving the award, Helen comments: “Throughout my time working for NSA and the wider sheep industry, I have always held the George Hedley award in the highest regard for the very high calibre individuals that have been recognised by this in the past. Therefore, I am extremely honoured to be named as the latest recipient, which enhances the award I received in 2016 when I became the first lady to win the John Gittins Memorial Award.

“I see the UK sheep industry and those that support me and NSA as part of a big family that has an integral part to play in the wider social, economic stability of the UK’s rural communities. Although I have my name on the award, without the support of the industry to myself and NSA, this would not have been possible, thank you all for that support.”

Devolution and increased activity in Wales have meant Helen has taken on a continuous stream of topics and challenges with confidence, placing NSA in high regard in Wales. Not only this but Helen has organised NSA’s flagship Sheep Event for the past decade, more recently contending with delays presented by covid-19.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker congratulates Helen on the award, commenting: “The George Hedley award is a really prestigious recognition of outstanding contribution to the sheep industry in the UK and I’m delighted that Helen received nominations from more than one source, and that the selection panel clearly voted Helen as the 2021 winner. She clearly lives and breathes sheep farming and is actively involved in so many different aspects of our industry. She now joins a long and very worthy list of recipients who will I’m sure welcome her to their ranks.”

The formal presentation of the George Hedley award will be amongst Helen’s many friends and colleagues from the industry at the NSA Sheep Event dinner on Tuesday 26th July 2022, ahead of the flagship event of the association at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire.2