Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Pig industry stalwart Hugh Crabtree has won the 2023 David Black Award for his contribution to the sector over 40 years. Mr Crabtree has... Pig industry stalwart receives lifetime achievement award

Pig industry stalwart Hugh Crabtree has won the 2023 David Black Award for his contribution to the sector over 40 years.

Mr Crabtree has dedicated his career to improving the welfare and economic production of the industry. He co-founded Farmex – a market leader in ventilation systems for pig production in the UK – in 1980.

Farmex pioneered the Barn Report system, a real-time control and monitoring device and process that enables pig producers to remotely check vital functions in controlled environment houses such as temperature, ventilation, water and feed flow.

The system is credited with saving producers thousands of pounds while increasing productivity. Exported around the world, it also delivers significant animal health and welfare improvements.

Outstanding impact

The David Black Award is given to an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding impact on the British pig sector through their work. Mr Crabtree was presented with the accolade by last year’s winner Zoe Leach.

AHDB pork sector council chairman Mike Sheldon said: “Hugh Crabtree’s contribution to the British pig industry is worthy of this year’s award, which honours his lifelong dedication, pioneering spirit and outstanding contributions to the British pig sector.

“Hugh has truly transformed the pig industry through his pioneering work at Farmex, voluntary engagements, and advocacy. His ability to make even the most mundane topics captivating has been a game-changer.

“His passion for the cause and exceptional communication skills have empowered pig producers and driven positive change. It is great to proudly acknowledge Hugh Crabtree’s unparalleled contributions to the industry.”


Accepting the award, Mr Crabtree said he had been very aware of the award and its extremely eminent recipients throughout his career.

“I am very humbled indeed to now find myself numbered among them,” he said. “I am very humbled indeed to now find myself numbered among them. In recent years, once again, the pig industry has had some hugely challenging times.

“But it is a measure of the people involved – with all their resilience, commitment and professionalism – that the sector will continue to provide safe, nutritious and healthy food while remaining passionate about the welfare of the pigs in its care.

“I am delighted, if slightly embarrassed, by the recognition of my peers and sincerely thank everyone.”

Pig industry expert receives OBE for services to sector

Former National Pig Association Zoe Leach received her OBE in recognition of her services to the pig industry.

Ms Leach – better known to many in the pig industry by her maiden name of Davies – was granted the honour at Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace. The investiture was attended by her mum, husband Adam and son Alex.

She worked tirelessly for the NPA for 14 years, after joining as regions manager in 2008. She became its first chief executive in 2014, a role she held until she joined the NFU as its eastern regional director last summer.

“It was a lovely day, if a little bit surreal from start to finish,” said Ms Leach.

“Everybody, from the police on the gate to the household staff and all the people who handled the investiture just made you feel completely at ease.”

Admitting she was blown away to have been nominated for the OBE in the first King’s Honours List, Ms Leach added: “I was just doing a job I loved for people I cared about, so I didn’t really understand why I deserved it.

“As someone I respect very much said to me, I guess it reflects all the hours spent supporting members through one crisis or another and the time, all the time and effort lobbying Government on things that really benefit the industry.”

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “We are all absolutely thrilled with this news. Not only has Zoe won countless battles on behalf of the entire industry at government and supply chain level, but she has formed a unique bond with members, often going above and beyond in supporting them on an individual level.”