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Judi named UK worker of the year
A FARMER from West Dorset has been crowned UK Worker of the Year 2013.
Judi James, 53, from Littlebredy, set up her own RSPCA Freedom Foods veal production unit alongside her farming duties.
In a ceremony in Reading Judi was voted the winner of the national competition by the audience, and chose a Suzuki Swift as her prize.
Judi said: “I can’t believe I’ve won. To think I’ve been recognised for my years of hard work has made me incredibly happy. It’s a lot more than winning a car or a motorbike.
“The title of UK Worker of the Year means so much to me and I’ll always cherish this moment."
She impressed the audience with her passion and commitment towards her job.
Judi also spoke of her desire to set up farming activities to raise money for her breast cancer charity as well as her aim to inspire other women to take on farming as a profession.
Judi's business has been up and running for just over a year and she has around 100 calves, which she rears until they are eight months old.
She said: “We don't dehorn or castrate them, so it's incredibly natural.
“But I'd far rather they were a little pampered, rather than pulled away from their mothers and kept in crates.”
It was concern for the welfare of bull calves which created the spark for the business.
Judi, who runs the farm single-handedly with help from her 13-year-old son, said: "It also needed to be something quite small-scale, something I could do without the need for machinery.
"To begin with, I sold my house and invested the money into property. Then we started the business with just a field and we've been slowly building it up ever since."
She added: "Farmers don't want to have to shoot their bull calves but often there's no alternative. They could be sent to market, but at a week old that is an incredibly stressful experience for them.
"That's where I come in."
Judi buys the animals from farms in Bride Valley, Martinstown and Broadmayne, and rears them until they are sold for meat at eight months.
She said : "You hear horror stories of calves reared for meat and kept in crates, but ours are in fields, with their own hutches for shelter."
Judi added: "I also work on a farm with John Barker, and I could not have done any of this without him. It's just fantastic."
Maurice Moreton, sales and marketing director for event sponsors Dickies, said: “I just want to congratulate all of our eight finalists and everyone else who entered the competition.
“It’s important to recognise such hard workers in the UK and all eight individuals standing on the stage today were worthy winners.”
The award recognises and rewards