Annie Brown - Winner of teh 2015 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award

FWAG East Hosts National FWAG Silver Lapwing Award 2015

A female farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for her outstanding efforts to promote good habitat management on the farm she runs in the South Downs National Park. Annie Brown of Lower Paythorne and Perching Manor Farms, Sussex, is the first woman to receive the highly-coveted ‘Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award’ in its 38 year history.

The award, generously sponsored by Waitrose for the seventh year running, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Annie was chosen from a national shortlist of five farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside the production of food.

The 2015 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Annie Brown on Wednesday 3rd June by The Rt Hon Sir Jim Paice DL and Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Buying and Agriculture Strategy, at a ceremony hosted by Ashley Cooper, the 2014 Silver Lapwing recipient, at his farm in Gestingthorpe, Essex.

Upon receiving the award, Annie said:

“It is a privilege to have won this award. We’ve all put a huge amount of effort into creating a commercial farm which also makes space for nature and we value the help and advice we have had from organisations such as FWAG along the way. What we’ve got now is a farm business that will be sustainable for generations to come – and that feels good.”

Annie also paid tribute to her farm manager David Ellin (who was unable to attend the event) describing him as “The most committed farm manager we could have found”.

She added, “Thank you to FWAG and the sponsors for putting on this fantastic event.”

Charles Beaumont, FWAG Silver Lapwing Award Judge, explained why Annie made a deserving winner:

“The judges felt that Paythorne Farm stood out because of the clarity with which Annie Brown had identified the big issues facing the farm and the coherent plan she then formulated to address the problems. The plan is clearly having a strong effect and is a fine example of how the best conservation so often occurs on the best managed commercial farms.”

Annie Brown and Ashley Cooper

Annie Brown accepts the Silver Lapwing Award from 2014 winner and ceremony host Ashley Cooper of Hill Farm Gestingthorpe, Essex.


Presenting the award, Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Buying and Agriculture Strategy, said:

“Once again, we are delighted to have been presented with an outstanding shortlist of finalists and again the decision has been a tough one. It is always impressive to see the foresight, innovation and care that farmers apply to their conservation strategies and the way they are so willing to open their farm gates to the local community and beyond, so everyone can enjoy what they have achieved”.

Joe Martin, Chairman of the FWAG Association, said:

“This longstanding national award, now in its 38th year, celebrates the environmental achievements of farmers. It showcases just what can be achieved on a typical farm with passion, dedication and sound, independent farm advice. We hope the award will inspire other farmers to go on to achieve great things for wildlife on their own farms.”

About the FWAG Silver Lapwing Award: The FWAG Silver Lapwing Award is run by the FWAG (Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group) Association and is now in its 38th year. To win this prestigious and longstanding award, a farm has to demonstrate a real commitment to species and habitat conservation and be able to show how they integrate their environmental management in their overall farm business.  Understanding and conserving historic aspects of the farm is also important.

In addition, consideration is given to the farm’s approach to conserving natural resources; this includes good soil management, the protection of water quality and efficient use of water and energy. These are all areas that the judges consider on their tour of the competition finalists. This is the 7th year the award has been sponsored by Waitrose and the FWAG Association is very grateful for their support.

About the FWAG Association: The national FWAG Association represents local Farming & Wildlife Advisory Groups (FWAGs) across the UK in partnership with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and LEAF.  These groups have helped British farmers for over four decades, providing trusted, independent, environmental advice.

About the winner:

Annie Brown, Lower Paythorne and Perching Manor Farms, Fulking, West Sussex: Paythorne Farm, Fulking, farmed by Annie Brown and her farm manager David Ellin, covers around 1,400 acres of which 1,000 is on the top of the South Downs and the remainder at the bottom which comprises areas of both clay and greensand. This bottom land is enhanced by field margins, good hedges and careful management of water courses.  The downland, which in its lifetime history has been intensive arable (resulting in huge problems with soil erosion) and then 100% grassland (with no erosion but lacking in variety for downland birds) has now been carefully divided into chalk grassland and arable. The grassland is grazed by an increasing herd of Limousin cross cows while the arable comprises a rotation of low input spring barley, followed by spring barley and stubble turnips. The fields are subdivided with beetle banks and the banks have wild bird seed crops either side. Annie supplements feed during the hungry gap for the birds which have responded by returning to the farm.

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FWAG East is part of the FWAG Association: FWAG East CIC is a limited company registered in England. Registered No: 08776388. Thanks to Chris Loades for images: