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New - Above and beyond award

Publication Date: 
4 August 2016

Potato Powerhouses – industry legends of the nineties, noughties, and twenty-tens.

Twenty years ago the first Potato Industry Award was presented, and for the industry approaching the Millennium it was a significant time of change.

Two decades later, a second category has been launched, the 'AHDB Above and Beyond award' and AHDB is actively seeking nominations for individuals such as store managers, field persons and agronomists who support businesses and research establishments, making things work ‘on the ground'.

Reflecting over two decades

In 1997 the Potato Marketing Board (PMB) reformed as the British Potato Council and the quota system ended.

For the first time since the war a true free market was established in Great Britain and a memo below from the PMB archives highlights this end of an era and the birth of the highly coveted, Potato Industry award.

1997 2015
c.146,000ha  c.111,000 ha
c.9,800 growers c. 2,000 
Average yield 46.8t/ha 48.8 t/ha
Area per grower 14ha 53ha



  • Britain's potato industry - probably the most successful in the world - is to have its own award for high achievers.
  • The Potato Industry Award, has been launched to recognise the person who is judged to have contributed significantly to the industry. The organisers plan to present the first award during the Industry Banquet at this September's Harvesting Demonstration in Suffolk. They hope that it will become an annual award under the aegis of the new British Potato Council, which begins operating on 1 July this year.
  • The winner of the award will be presented with a specially-commissioned silver rose bowl and will be given a replica to keep. An anonymous benefactor has endowed the award, to make sure that it is independently financed.
  • An awards committee has already been set up, and includes leading figures in potato growing, research, packing and processing. The members are: Robert Beeson of potato packers MBM; Fred Gibson of KP Foods, who is currently a Government appointed member of the PMB; Jim Godfrey, a Lincolnshire grower and PMB member; Professor John Hillman of the Scottish Crop Research Institute; and Robin Pooley, retiring MD of Britain's largest co-operative, Anglian Produce.
  • Nominations are welcome from anyone active in the British potato industry, and should be sent to PMB, Cowley, Oxford.
  • The British Potato Council will be the successor to the present Potato Marketing Board. It will be a development council providing research, market development and information services for the British potato industry.


Jim Godfrey reflects on year 1

Looking back to 1997, Jim Godfrey OBE says, “The purpose of the Potato Industry Award was simple, to sing the praises of and showcase the best of the British Potato Industry.

“Our enthusiastic, energetic and innovative sector is full of great people and it’s vital they receive recognition from their peers. This is as important 20 years on.”


Leading with Impact – Potato Industry ‘A’-listers: 1997 to 2015

  • 1997 Charles McCarthy
  • 1998 Frank Pirie
  • 1999 Prof John Hillman
  • 2000 Rod Herbert
  • 2001 The late Richard Watson Jones
  • 2002 Bob Meredith
  • 2003 Richard Harris
  • 2004 Eric Allen
  • 2005 Harry Duncan
  • 2006 Alan Owens
  • 2007 David Walker OBE
  • 2008 Dr Stuart Wale
  • 2008 Jim Godfrey – Special Award 
  • 2009 Michael Higgins
  • 2010 Dr John Bradshaw
  • 2011 Tony Bambridge
  • 2012 Dr Mike Storey
  • 2013 Dr Jack Dunnett
  • 2014 George Mackay
  • 2015 Nick Vermont (pictured right)


1st recipient - September 1997

British Potato Industry Award recipients include leading variety breeders, specialists in research and development and knowledge transfer, storage engineers, processing specialists, machinery designers and journalists

The late Charles (Mac) McCarthy, chairman of McCain Foods and a pioneer of the British frozen chip industry, was the first with his name on the cup. He received the honour at the Potato Industry Banquet held during Potato Harvest ‘97 at Knettishall, Suffolk.

In 1965, Mac persuaded the McCain brothers to start a McCain company in Britain. He became the first Managing Director and then Chairman. It was the first McCain company outside of Canada, but today McCain Foods is a world-wide operation with around 60 factories located across Canada, the US, Australia, South America, Holland, Belgium and France, as well as GB. Mac died, at his home in Scarborough, in January 2013.


Bob Meredith - 2002

In 2002, Bob Meredith received the award and the BPC release at the time read…

“With the knowledge he gained from publishing, combined with his sharp business sense, he soon identified a gap in the market for a specialist potato-related publication after leaving the PMB in 1990. Potato Review was born and under his editorship the publication soon became renowned for delivering practical technology transfer led articles. Potato Review’s popularity quickly grew among GB growers and today it boasts many overseas subscribers.“

 Mr Meredith joined the Potato Marketing Board (PMB) as deputy head of research and development before being appointed with overall responsibility for communications and R&D.

Of his many achievements, Mr Meredith oversaw innovative and high profile publicity campaigns and events leading to a steady increase in potato consumption and better targeting of the emerging catering sector. He also introduced an early assurance scheme that identified high quality potatoes and produced premiums for the supply chain by assuring consumers they were purchasing top quality British produce.


Spotlight on 2011 – Tony Bambridge

Tony Bambridge, co-founder of B & C Farming Ltd, received the 2011 award at BP2011 in Harrogate.

“I am delighted that Tony Bambridge has been recognised not only for being one of the industry’s leaders, but also  the many hours he has put into the industry for the benefit of others as a leading light in grower representation,” said the Potato Council chair at the time Mr Allan Stevenson.

“Tony was a founder member of the British Potato Council (BPC), a body that brought together all the industry sectors (growers, traders and processors) to work for their mutual benefit. Furthermore, he has always been a keen supporter of Cambridge University Farm and its research team, who are key research providers to Potato Council. Tony has been a leader in translating research into practice and making best use of up-to-date information to build a strong business.”

Beginning his career in 1980 at Crane & Sons Farms Limited as a farm foreman, he became a Nuffield Scholar and studied production and marketing of potatoes and the influence of agricultural co-operatives. It was the inspiration of this scholarship that lead to the formation of a potato growing business, B & C Potatoes Limited, in partnership with David Crane who regrettably died in a tragic accident later. This business now manages over 3000 acres of arable farming including a significant seed and ware potato enterprise.

As a director and then chairman of the grower marketing group Anglian Produce (AP), Mr Bambridge was heavily involved with the merger between Greenvale and AP that became Greenvale AP.  His vision of a more coordinated supply chain, working for the joint benefit of all resulted in his becoming non-executive chairman of Greenvale AP in 2008.

Mr Stevenson continued: “In my view, what makes Tony such a worthy recipient of this award is his understanding of the entire potato industry supply chain and his huge efforts to make it more transparent and efficient. Tony is also a valuable member of my board and some of the Potato Council subcommittees.”


2016 Shaking things up

The twentieth winner of the British Potato Industry Award will be announced at the ever-popular industry dinner, at the AHDB Seed Industry Event at the Fairmont St Andrews, Fife, Scotland on 3 November (

However, 2016 sees the launch of a further awards and a second category.

Two categories

  •  20TH YEAR – British Potato Industry Award

This prestigious honour continues to recognise individuals for their outstanding contribution to the GB potato industry.

AHDB Potatoes continues to support the industry’s leaders in marketing, innovation, research and development, and by presenting this award each year, it recognises the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of those high-achievers who have made outstanding contributions to the overall GB potato industry.

Fiona Fell, AHDB Potatoes’ Chair, is a passionate advocate of the potential of the potato industry and comments “This award is not only about recognising decades of dedicated hard work by individuals, it is also highlights the fantastic career opportunities which are available to our Next Generation in the potato industry, showing how enthusiasm and hard work can reap rewards.

  • AWARD 2 (NEW) – AHDB Potatoes 'Above and Beyond' Award

“This year AHDB is presenting a new award,” says AHDB Potatoes Sector Strategy Director, Dr Rob Clayton. “Many unsung potato heroes go ‘Above and Beyond’ in their role to make a positive impact on the potato supply chain.”

Recipients of the new ‘AHDB Potatoes – Above and beyond award’ can be at any stage of their career, but must have made a difference to the potato industry.

“We are calling for nominations of individuals such as store managers, field persons and agronomists who support businesses and research establishments, making things work ‘on the ground’ so they can be recognised by industry for their efforts.”

Nominations are straightforward and can be submitted for a significant achievement from over the last five years. Nominations are simple to submit online for both categories at

Nominations will close on 3 October 2016.

For further information contact: Award committee secretary, Margaret Skinner, AHDB Potatoes, Tel: 0131 297 7640.

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