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NZ farmer scoops international Champion of Champions award from Marks & Spencer


Hawkes Bay deer farmers, Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe, have won a prestigious international farming award from retailer Marks & Spencer (’M&S’).

The M&S Farming for the Future awards were established three years ago to celebrate farmers and growers in the M&S supply chain who stand out and make a difference to their industry.

These annual awards celebrate the inspirational work that farmers and growers are undertaking to address sustainability challenges in their business and in the M&S supply chain.

There are five initial categories - one for each region of the UK as well as an international award - and the winners of each of these categories gets put forward for a Champion of Champions award, which is voted for by M&S customers through the M&S website.

Tim and Lucy won the international category and then secured the public vote to win the overall competition, being crowned ’Champion of Champions’.

Commenting on the awards, Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing at M&S, said:

"Our judges were particularly impressed by the entry from Tim and Lucy for the work that they have done on enhancing the natural environment and water quality on their farm, for their involvement in R&D to improve the NZ venison industry, and for their approach to animal welfare. They were also encouraged that Tim and Lucy were sharing their knowledge with the wider farming community and had no hesitation in presenting them with the International M&S Farming for the Future award.

“Their efforts clearly resonated with our customers as well, as they secured the majority of our public votes, so we are delighted to crown them ’Champion of Champions’!”

Commenting on their win, Tim/Lucy said:

“The feedback from people in regard to voting has been amazing, not just from NZ but in England, Ireland and Canada. The International Farming for the Future award was prestige enough on its own. To be awarded Champion of Champions, well… we’re just speechless.”

Says Tim: “We are constantly striving to innovate. We are aiming to improve all aspects of the quality and supply of venison to our customers, from the environmental and animal welfare issues to how we can give our consumers the best experience from our fantastic products. It’s a passion.”

Gerard Hickey from Firstlight Foods added:

“This award is great news: it vindicates the investment Firstlight has made in developing the UK retail market, and we’re pleased to be able to support Marks and Spencer in raising their venison sales.”


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