WINNING ‘Stockman of the Year’ is an accolade that should never be sniffed at.

But being the first woman to win the title, is something that remains with the 2010 winner, Ann Taylor.

Then known as Ann Laird, she took the title back in 2010, which makes her one of our more recent featured recipients and the first of only three women ever that have taken the overall individual trophy home.

A member of Biggar Young Farmers Club and part of the Lanarkshire A team that came third that same year, Ann had been competing in ‘Stockman of the Year’ for six years.

“I was in the dairy pairs with my brother, Colin, that year, too,” Ann explained. “He had won the dairy individual prize in 2009.

“Before winning the overall in 2010, the highest I had got, personally, was coming runner up in the teams.”

Young Farmers stock judging is a real family affair for the Lairds. Ann and Colin’s father, Alister, have trained Highland Show teams in the past, and Alister had himself been one half of a winning dairy pair – twice! He competed for Lothian and Peebles District. Their cousin, Andrew Lawrie, has also been a winner of the overall ‘Stockman of the Year’ title.

“My mum was always involved too,” explained Ann. “She was always on the sidelines cheering us on and encouraging us, so it was a real team effort as far as the family was concerned.”

Ann, who works for Semex now, told The SF that although she knew she had put a lot of work in, you just don’t know what’s going to happen once you actually get to Ingliston.

She said: “I had definitely done a lot of training that year. I made sure I didn’t miss a practice and I did a lot of research, plus some reading up at home too.

“I still lived at home at Blyth in Peebleshire then, and I don’t think there was a cow on the place that hadn’t had a demonstration done on it in the run up to the show that year.

“It was a real honour to win it, just in general, but being the first female was the cherry on top to be honest. A few had come close in the past so it was great to just go that one step further.

“You never go into these things thinking you are going to win. I was quite surprised, but I did know I had given it my all, but even then you just never know what’s going to happen. There are always so many skilled young farmers taking part.”

Ann is now married to Alfie Taylor and the pair live at Alfie’s home farm, Heatheryhall, at Thankerton. Ann said: “The year I won, Alfie was in the same team as I was, so it’s something we had in common as well.

“He has also been part of the winning beef pairs trophy winners three times and was third overall individual in 2011. I was the secretary of Biggar in 2011 and Alfie was the chairman at the same time, so Young Farmers is something we’ve both always been involved in.

“I would encourage anyone to get involved with the Young Farmers in any aspect, but ‘Stockman of the Year’ in particular is a great confidence builder.

“It’s also a great way of travelling round to different farms and set ups when you’re practicing. It’s really educational seeing how other people do things.

“You also meet a great bunch of like-minded folk. You make great friends – Young Farmers in general is great for that – it gives you a great social life if you’re looking for one!” she pointed out.