When Thomas Gilpin attended last year’s Farming Life & Danske Bank Awards little did he know he’d be returning home to Portadown with not one, but two prestigious awards.
Thomas, 67, was awarded the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and his company Gilfresh Produce scooped the Agri-Food Business of the year
The accolades were a recognition for a career spanning more than 50 years of farming.
Thomas has been part of his family business since before he left school at 15, having previously worked evenings and during the school holidays. For him farming was always the right career.
“When I was brought up on the family farm I was involved from a very early age and this just continued into where I am today,” he said
It is an industry that still excites Thomas every day: “It is evolving and changing over the years and remains challenging with new technology and new techniques and it is never boring.
“Around 25 years ago it was just basic wholesale cutting produce and putting into a bag or box, but now it has become much more refined into developing prepared products, as today the modern family wants produce prepared and ready to cook.”
Nevertheless receiving the awards came as a total surprise for Thomas.
“I only knew that I had won the award at the end of the dinner and prizegiving night and it came as a great shock when I saw the clips on the screen,” he said. “I just wondered how I was the last person to know about this!”
“I was shocked, surprised and greatly honored to be chosen for the award.”
As entries are open for this year’s Farming Life & Danske Bank awards Thomas said whilst things haven’t really changed for him personally as a result of the award there have been some changes within the company and how he spends his time.
“I’m still the same,” he explained. “But I’ve been asked a few times to speak about my 50 years career at a few functions as a result and this brought great recognition. Also, we finally got to the end of our renewable energy projects this past year.”
For Thomas his victory at the Farming Life & Danske Bank awards reinforced the value in such events.
“Go for it because this sort of opportunity comes along very few times in your lifetime,” he said. “It gives great recognition for something that you have been doing naturally, working hard at and also enjoying during your working life.
“It is very important that people enter as it gives the companies and their staff great recognition for all of their hard work and their achievements in the community. It has been a very worthwhile experience and we as a family and wider business are very grateful for the opportunity and recognition of our hard work.”
For information on categories and how to enter the 2017 Farming Life & Danske Bank Awards please log onto jpnievents.co.uk
Also read: Lifetime achievement award