One of Scotland’s leading farming organisations, The Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS) has presented its annual awards to stalwarts of the North East.

Receiving the Press and Journal/RNAS shield for services by a public figure or personality to agriculture this year is Peter Cook. Currently working as director of Food, Drink, and Agricultural at Opportunity North East (ONE) Peter Cook, was brought up on the family farm of Mosshead, Kemnay.

Mr Cook is a graduate of Aberdeen University who has done much to help farmers navigate the challenges of the industry. He is widely regarded as an excellent communicator with a wealth of experience which he has built up through roles within a range of organisations including SAC, Aberdeen University, and his own agriculture advisory business.

This year’s Aberdeen and Northern Marts 'Local Award' has been won by businessman Gordon Towns, a partner in Towns & Carnie Ltd which operates throughout the North East.

After starting his career as a mart clerk in Elgin and moving to North Eastern Farmers, Mr. Towns established Towns & Carnie Ltd with Sandy Carnie in 1982. In 2019 he received the Chris Hamilton Memorial Award at the AHDA Conference for his dedication to the industry and, along with his wife Ann, established the Forglen herd of highland ponies in 1978, a prefix which is synonymous with showing success in the equestrian world.

The David Argo Award for an 'unsung hero' working within the agricultural sector will be presented to Iain MacDonald who recently retired after 25 years of service as a feed adviser for Norvite Animal Nutrition.

Originally from a farm in Mid Lothian, Mr. MacDonald is well respected for his knowledge and expertise in the animal feed sector and has been in demand as a speaker at events such as FAS new entrant and monitor farm meetings as well as for his commentary at Nairn and Keith Shows. His passion for educating the next generation saw him hold the post of chairman of the Royal Highland Education Trust’s (RHET) Highland branch.

The SRUC award for someone 35 years and under who has shown significant achievement and contribution in agriculture has been won by Ben Lowe from Newburgh, Ellon.

Although not from a farming background, Mr. Lowe has been working part-time on farms since the age of 14 and went on to study at SRUC Edinburgh for four years gaining a BSc Hons in Agriculture, and the RHASS medal for top second-year student. Alongside his studies which included completing his diploma in agronomy in 2019, Ben also set up and ran a farm shop as a partner and bought his own sheep flock. In 2019 he also started his farming business as a new entrant and operates HB Farms in partnership with his wife, Harriet. In 2021, the enterprise took a major step forward when it grew to include a 450-sow pig farm.

Recipient of the Johnston Carmichael-sponsored award for a farmers’ son or daughter working at home goes to SRUC agricultural student Mitchell MacGillvray from Glenlivet whilst the award for a student employed off-farm goes to Rural Business Management student, Lindsey Brown from Midmar.

The agricultural apprentice engineer award – sponsored by Turriff Agri Parts – has been won by Reece Marr who is currently studying a land-based engineering extended diploma with Ravenhill (Dyce).

The 2023 RNAS awards lunch will take place at the Leonardo’s Hotel, Aberdeen Airport on Friday, November 3. To book tickets, email or call (07593) 227847.