SAOS' Next Generation Award has been presented to not one, but two recipients.

At the agricultural co-operation and collaboration body's annual conference, it was announced that the judging panel had found it impossible to choose between Peter Duthie and John Taylor of Scottish Pig Producers.

Both Peter and John were recruited straight from school in Huntly by Gordon McKen and, from the start, their work ethic and honesty was clearly evident. They have since demonstrated sound judgement and an ability to deliver their responsibilities without needing constant supervision. This, in turn, has enabled SPP chief executive Andy McGowan, who nominated them, to concentrate more on customer engagement and strategic development of the Scottish Pig industry.

Andy explained: “John primarily manages operations for the co-op’s Scottish members, whilst Peter focusses on Northern Ireland. Between them, they deliver the complete weekly cycle of schedule, logistics, customer liaison, movement licensing, banking and member payments, along with sorting out numerous ‘challenges’.

"This involves about 10,000 pigs, 110 members, 11 customers and a weekly value in excess of £1 million. John also organises the operations for our other company, Wholesome Pigs Scotland, whilst Peter does the WPS accounts and manages our ISO9001 accreditation too.”

A serious fire in August 2017 closed the Brechin abattoir for three and a half months, meaning Peter and John had to find immediate alternatives for more than 80,000 pigs in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. Andy continued: “This involved grappling with regulations on drivers’ hours, limited haulage capacity, processor breakdowns, veterinary inspections and numerous other challenges.

"At one stage, they both went out to help a member tag and load pigs at 4am because of last minute changes. Each successive problem was absorbed with professionalism and dark humour, with members commenting that they wouldn't have realised Brechin was shut as the impact on them was minimal thanks to the SPP team. In the meantime, Peter also ensured that the Northern Ireland members were not neglected and the NI throughput continues to go strongly.

“When the SPP bookkeeper left last May, John and Peter announced that they’d try covering the work between them, which they did with no visible impact on their other roles. And when Brechin had to close again for a fortnight last summer due to the CO2 shortage, this was met with little more than a bit of cursing before solutions were found again.”

Presenting the award, SAOS chairman, Mark Clark, commented: “Peter and John are both worthy recipients of this award. They are clearly invaluable to Scottish Pig Producers, and are wonderful examples of the kind of work ethic and attitude that we’re looking to recognise. They embrace co-operative working and personal development, and show huge resilience and good humour through very significant changes and challenges. Congratulations to them both.”