Past BGS President Sarah Byford receives MBE in Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list

Past BGS President Sarah Byford receives MBE in Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list

Thursday, June 16, 2016

BGS is delighted to hear that our first lady president, Sarah Byford (2008/09) has been recognised for her voluntary services to grassland societies and rural communities by being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list. We wish to congratulate Sarah, who remains a dedicated and active member of BGS as well as the Welsh Federation of Grassland Societies and her local Society in Monmouthshire, where she is in her 44th year as secretary.

Speaking in the Abergavenny Chronicle Sarah said; “I am obviously honoured and can’t quite believe it. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with all the organisations I have been involved with and feel I have got more out of those relationships than I have put in.” Sarah feels that this award is as much for her fellow volunteers and those she has helped, as for herself, and continued to say; “As long as I am physically and mentally able to carry on with what I am involved with, then bring it on – I’m not ready to put my feet up yet!”

Sarah is a farmer’s daughter from Hampshire, who moved to Monmouthshire more than 50 years ago initially to study at Usk Agricultural College where she then became a teacher in livestock production, where she also managed the farm between 1988 and 92.

In 1980 Sarah became the first lady chairman of Usk Farmers Club, who organise the popular Usk show, of which she was secretary for eight years and continues to serve as livestock steward.

She was elected chairman of the Federation of Welsh grassland Societies 2002/03 and has played an important part in the production of a commemorative book to mark their 50th anniversary this year.

As the first lady president of BGS in 2008/09, Sarah was pivotal in many exciting developments and accomplishments, at a time when BGS flourished with new projects and initiatives. She was also involved in steering the Society at a time of global financial turbulence that impacted our industry.

During her presidency BGS had our first foreign Summer Meeting, held in Holland (a departure reflected this year in our trip to Brittany). She also instigated the launch of the Grassland Challenge with Young Farmers, and persuaded an audience of younger members to become more involved with the Society’s activities.

Naturally she strengthened the bond between the BGS and the Welsh Federation, running a successful conference on organic production with Farming Connect in Builth Wells and a Forage Legume Meeting in conjunction with IBERS, Aberystwyth. She also represented BGS at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Ulster Grassland Society in Northern Ireland.

The first Grazing Partners project was also launched at this time, an increasingly relevant initiative which BGS is currently rejuvenating with funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund. Other aspects that demonstrated her desire for BGS to innovate at that time include her support for the newly established Nutrient Wise Demonstrations, the development of a new BGS website and the continuation of the BGS Innovation Award, which Sarah bestowed jointly to John Vipond and Marcus Maxwell for their development and promotion of forage aspects of Easycare sheep systems.

As well as being involved with grassland societies at every level, Sarah is also a past chairman of Raglan Farmers’ Association, of which she is currently press officer, and is a passionate supporter of the Young Farmer’s movement, being a past president of both Usk YFC and the Gwent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. Each year she continues to serve as a livestock steward at the Monmouth Show, Royal Welsh and Winter Fair.

Amongst her other services to rural communities are numerous years as a Guider running a Rainbow group and serving as a magistrate on the Gwent Bench for ten years to 2015.

Congratulations to Sarah for a clearly well-deserved award – she continues to do us all proud.



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