Shropshire Star

Graham twice recognised with award

By Keith Stevens Stone farmer Graham Clay has uniquely been recognised for his contribution to Staffordshire farming by the presentation to him for the second time of the Richard Burton trophy, which is awarded annually at the county NFU annual meeting to recognize outstanding service.

Graham Clay receives the Burton trophy from Staffs NFU chairman Richard Spencer

Graham said he was in total shock to have been awarded it twice and rather overwhelmed.

He and his wife Janice have been tenant farmers for 30 years at Aston Hall Farm, Stone, on the Staffordshire County Council’s farming estate. He has now moved from dairy into beef as his tenancy is due to end. They also cater for bed and breakfast guests.

Graham has been representing farming tenants as vice chairman and then chairman of the Staffordshire NFU tenants committee since the 1980s with what NFU county chairman Richard Spencer described as “having a calm aura about him, aware of everything but missing nothing, whilst quietly working away for the benefit of the industry”. He has been chairman of the NFU West Midland tenants committee since 2007 until recently stepping down.

During that time he was heavily involved and pivotal in the successful fight to retain the Staffordshire County Council farm estate against plans in 2007 to sell it off as the tenancies ended. He has also twice held office for two year periods as chairman of the Stone Branch of the NFU.

“I have been able to visit and see many parts of the region and country I would not have done if it were not for my NFU role,” he said. His biggest regret is seeing the disastrous sale of the Herefordshire county council farms.

At their annual meeting Staffordshire NFU voted in our farming correspondent Richard Bower to the role of NFU county vice chairman. Richard farms with his father Ray a substantial beef, cropping and diversification farm at Penkridge, near Stafford, and for the last three years has also been the chairman of the national NFU’s Next Generation of Farmers committee. He is someone who has had considerable experience of farm and business management away from the family farm. He was warmly welcomed into the role by the re elected county chairman Richard Spencer.

Staffordshire NFU also nominated him to stand for the role of National NFU vice president in the hustings which will take place in January and February, prior to the vote for office holders which will take place at the National NFU annual meeting in Birmingham at the end of February.