FAMILY WINS GOLD MEDAL FOR LAND MANAGEMENT

Date: Saturday 11th June 2005

THE Brackenburgh Estate is to be recognised with a national award for excellence in land management by the Royal Agricultural Society of England just months after swathes of its woodland were devastated by the storms that swept the county in January.

The Bledisloe Gold Medal, which is presented only once each year, will go to the Harris family and the Brackenburgh Estate for their outstanding achievement in the successful land management and development of 5,400 acres around Calthwaite.

The medal was first awarded in 1959 after the first Viscount Bledisloe made a gift of £3,000 to the RASE to mark his 90th birthday. It is given to a landowner who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the successful land management and development of an agricultural estate in England.

Judges visited Brackenburgh in April and were impressed by the exceptional effort put into restoring the damaged woodland and the Harris family’s considerable involvement and empathy with their local community.

The judges said: “This is an estate that has been the subject of a terrific amount of care and thought. The Harris family very much think of themselves as custodians whose core objective is to continue to grow and strengthen the estate to meet the challenges of the future. The estate is traditionally run but to the highest of standards.

“Particularly taking into account the area in which Brackenburgh is situated, we find the estate to be a model of modern management. There is a strong ethos of caring for the land and the people, engendering a partnership that will allow the estate to move forward and flourish through the 21st Century.”

Founded by the late Joseph Harris in 1874, the estate today amounts to 5,400 acres which includes 11 let farms, three in hand farms, commercial properties, houses and cottages, woodlands and lowland heath, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

John Harris said: “We are honoured to have been chosen for this prestigious award. In accepting the Bledisloe Gold Medal, the family do so on behalf of all those both past and present who live and work on the estate and in the local community and who do so much to maintain the high standards of rural management which we endeavour to achieve.

“The award is recognition of the community in and around the village of Calthwaite, all of whom are such an integral part of our local rural economy.”

Mr. Harris and his father, Joe, will receive their award from the Right Rev. Antony Russell, the Bishop of Ely, at the Royal show awards dinner on Monday, 4th July.