WITH a lot of responsibility on his 20-year young shoulders, farmer’s son Murray Craig has been with Swindale Foot Farm near Keld since he left school four years ago.

Allowing the owners to expand into beef on another unit, to which they confirm would have been impossible to do otherwise, he manages 800-Swaledale and North Country hill Cheviot ewes across hill farms spanning 9,500 acres within the Eden Valley, and helps with a further 850 at the second farm.

Murray’s hard work has been recognised when he was crowned winner of Farm Worker of the Year category in the 2020 British Farming Awards revealed recently in a digital award’s ceremony.The event, which was broadcast online and hosted by Vernon Kay, showcased the innovation and achievements of British farmers across the agricultural industry.

Murray said: “I never thought I would win especially when I looked at the other individuals in the category but I am so pleased. I would go as far as to say farmworkers are the backbone in our industry because while you need that business side to any successful unit, if you don’t have people actually doing the work that nothing runs. I am lucky to have a supportive boss who has always been open to career progression and what I would like, but you don’t get anywhere unless you are prepared to progress yourself and put yourself out there to learn new opportunities. Farming is in my blood and I am proud to be part of keeping the nation fed and producing food to the highest standards we possibly can as a country.”

Judges said: “At just the age of 20, Murray has taken on a huge amount of responsibility and is unfazed by any of the challenges a hill farm can present, which has allowed his employer to expand the business, proving himself to be a huge asset.”