Melanie Jackson is a great example of a farm worker who goes above and beyond in her role. This is not just applicable towards the job itself, but also very much surrounding the welfare of the poultry birds she manages along with the people around her. From working on the factory floor to poultry and farms supervisor, she has had two successful careers within the business, working for T. Soanes and Son for 30 years in bird planning, animal welfare and health and safety, before leaving the role in 2020.

But the following year, the East Yorkshire company restructured and Melanie returned to the family business in the newly created role of poultry and farms supervisor. “I was given an opportunity to do a dream job so I came back,” says Melanie, who successfully passed her NEBOSH qualification in the interim period.

“My passion has always been on the ‘live’ side of animal welfare, rather than the processing side, and this was very much a hands-on role. “I am involved in the Red Tractor preparation and farm welfare audits, which I have enjoyed doing previously, as well as delivering high biosecurity standards.”


Challenges One of Melanie’s main challenges has been the undertaking of a modern 120,000-bird site, which was built six years ago. Melanie, with the help and support of the poultry health specialist and farm manager, revamped the offering and began improving efficiencies.

Not only did she manage significant challenges, she also had everything to learn about the computer and lighting system and ventilation settings. Melanie says: “Over the years I have developed a stockman’s eye and can see any small differences between the birds on a daily basis. “Their welfare is paramount to me and I have spent a great deal learning to understand them and making sure their environment is to the highest standards.”

Having forged good relationships with the team, including the vets and other experts in the field, their hard work and commitment paid off and they achieved an EPEF of 394, along with 366 on another site – a result Melanie’s employer Claire Wright delighted with.

Claire says: “Even before the results were published, Melanie knew she had a good result because of her knowledge and experience. “This enabled her to manage the site and apply the attention to detail that is so important from both a welfare view and overall results.

Melanie Jackson

”Winning the award was my biggest achievement to date and talking about it today I still cannot believe it. Nothing is gained without hard work and determination and I have that in spades”

“This enabled her to manage the site and apply the attention to detail that is so important from both a welfare view and overall results.”

“Melanie will ensure she finds out the answer to any questions she has. She is extremely conscientious and strives to achieve excellence in all that she does.”


With the support of Claire, they have now built up a team of six farm managers and support managers to help lead the business into the future, and developing positive working relationships has been key. Claire says: “Melanie came to CSB already with respect from the farm managers as many of them had dealt with her at the factory when she worked as a live bird planner.

“Following time on-farm, each and every farm manager now has Melanie’s complete admiration and respect. “Not only has she demonstrated her expertise, but she has retained the ability to manage the farm managers. She now can demonstrate to the farm managers what difference care and attention to a job can make to both the welfare of the birds and the overall results of a crop.

“She is not frightened to challenge the farm managers and her plain speaking and no-nonsense attitude is well received.”

“This is because there is no-one who will support the farm managers more than Melanie.”

“She will attend any of the sites and undertake any job in order to help any farm manager.” Melanie is also keen to upskill and find training courses to keep her knowledge and current practices up to date and recruits herself and the farm managers on to online training courses so they all benefit. Melanie says: “Every day is a learning day and rolling out that learning to the farm managers motivates me to succeed.”


Her self-motivation and development of many transferable CPD skills was praised by the judges who unanimously agreed she was the winner of Farm Worker of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards. She says: “Winning the award was my biggest achievement to date and talking about it today I still cannot believe it. “Nothing is gained without hard work and determination and I have that in spades.” Looking to the future, Melanie will continue making everyday improvements for the birds and farm managers.

A word from the sponsor

George Wallis, head of marketing at Isuzu (UK), says: “Isuzu is proud to sponsor the Farm Worker of the Year Award, celebrating the lifeblood of British farming. With the last few years being particularly challenging for agricultural and farming industries in the wake of Covid-19 and Brexit, it is even more fitting to, once again, recognise those who have helped kept Britain fed through it all.

“Every year we see extraordinary entries from hardworking farmers in the UK. And as always, we are proud to recognise people driven to work hard and take pride in all they do – showing us time and time again what true grit, dedication and commitment looks like.

“The UK farming industry depends on these farm workers and we honour them with great pride as part of the British Farming Awards. Getting behind real grafters driven to do their best for Britain.”


Many farm workers often go that extra mile, whether that be continued loyalty in the form of time and effort, attention to detail or adopting new approaches to ensure the farm business runs efficiently and effectively. Candidates will be able to demonstrate a sound understanding of the business and how their efforts have contributed to a dynamic farm enterprise. Open to all farm workers in the UK, we are looking for individuals who can offer examples of their self-motivation and commitment to the farm businesses they work for.