The Bayer / FACE Awards are organised by the charitable organisation Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) and Bayer CropScience to recognise the often unsung work many farmers do to promote visits to farms and provide access to high quality educational materials.

This year’s winners were announced at a ceremony held at The Skinners’ Hall, in central London, in the presence of supporters of educational initiatives from the agricultural and food industry, education authorities and centres and the media. BBC presenter and journalist Tom Heap announced the five winners:

  • Julie White and Nick Platt from the WELLIES Project in Sudbury, Derbyshire who won the ‘Access’ Award for demonstrating outstanding achievements in encouraging access for pupils with special needs, disaffected students or disadvantaged young people.
  • Iona Corbett from Rectory Farm in Epwell, Oxfordshire who won the ‘Future of Farming Champion’ category for making an outstanding contribution to improving young people’s understanding of the food and farming sector, across all ages and through a variety of activities.
  • Claire Morris from The College Farm in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire who won the ‘Farm School Partnership’ Award for building successful relationships with schools and making a valuable and sustained contribution to school life both on and away from the farm.
  • Graham Ward OBE from STC Research Foundation in Cawood, North Yorkshire who won the ‘Inspiring Educator’ category for having initiated innovative and unusual means to create inspiring learning experiences, both on the farm and in the classroom.
  • Trevor Wheeler from Brynmawr Farm in Newcastle on Clun, Shropshire who won the ‘Biodiversity’ Award for being successful in highlighting the importance of a specific species or of biodiversity in general to young people.
    Mr Wheeler, who farms around 80ha with his son Paul and manages a further 108ha in two wildlife reserves for Shropshire Wildlife Trust, was also named overall winner for his inspiring work with children and students from all over the world.

Around 300 children visit the farm annually and do a wide range of activities from feeding lambs to servicing machinery. “If you get children out on farm they learn so much more than reading about it in a book,” Mr Wheeler said. “You can see by the expressions on their faces, how much they have enjoyed it.”

The event is a highlight for FACE and Bayer, said Janet Hickinbottom, national education officer at FACE. “It is something we look forward to with great anticipation and with pride. At the judging stage we do not know what to expect but we are never disappointed; far from it, we are overwhelmed by the stories we hear of the tremendous work being carried out by farmers and farm educators. The Awards are an opportunity to shine a light on these often unacknowledged individuals who are doing so much to help children and young adults understand the connection between farming and their daily lives.”

Andrew Orme, managing director at Bayer CropScience, said: “This event demonstrated the amazing efforts that farmers and others here in the UK go to in order to reconnect people and where their food comes from. With an increasing global population and less land to grow our food, this is a vital part of all our work and, as the UK’s leading supplier of crop protection products, we are delighted to have championed these Awards.”