the judges

Judging Process

All entries received will be initially subject to a paper judging stage against the criteria outlined. In most categories, the top three will be shortlisted and designated as finalists. These finalists will then need to complete a telephone interview. Finalists in the Indoor and Outdoor Producer of the Year award will be subject to an on-site by our judges (COVID-19 permitting)  to determine the winner. Shortlisted entrants into Trainee of the Year will be invited for an interview in London with the finalists confirmed after the interview.

Meet the decision makers


Stewart Houston 

A member of Defra’s Pig Core Group,  Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Board England (AHWBE) and chair of Red Tractor’s Pig Sector

David Owers 

David won the inaugural National Pig Awards-Single Site Producer of the year in 2014 . He runs a 700 Sow Farrow to finish unit in Lincolnshire selling over 33 Pigs/Sow/Year . He said it is inspiring to see the high standard of entrants we have seen in previous years.

John Lewis 

John Lewis is the founder and Chairman of Lewis Business Media, owners of Pig World magazine. Over the course of a business publishing career lasting 40 years, he has organised and judged many awards schemes in several different markets. In addition to being a current judge of the National Pig Awards, John has also chaired the judging panel of the National SQP Awards for the last 3 years. 

Lizzie Wilson

The NPA’s policy services officer, Lizzie Wilson, has worked in the UK pig industry for 18 years. While much of her time is spent liaising with members and government on planning and environmental legislation or battling the increasing tide of animal rights activism and anti-farming rhetoric, as a farmer’s daughter and a former employee of BQP and Elanco, she has a thorough grounding in practical pig production. All of which makes her ideally suited to judge the National Pig Award candidates.

Gemma Thwaites

I qualified from Liverpool University in 2002, developing an interest in the pig industry shortly afterwards while working in mixed practice in Yorkshire. I chose to specialise fully in pigs in 2007, joining Garth Partnership and subsequently becoming a partner in the business. I am an active member of the Pig Veterinary Society and joined the officers team in 2020, I am currently Vice President. I am also on the NPA Pig Industry Group as the veterinary representative. Within our business we work with a significant sector of the United Kingdom pig industry and as such have access to a wide variety of production types but also work throughout the entire supply chain. I have a particular interest in improving health and performance by disease eradication or by control via coordinated pig movements.

Jen Waters 

After qualifying from the University of Leeds with a Research Masters in Disease Eradication Initiatives in Pigs, I joined the then BPEX as a KT Manager for the north of England where I spent a year cutting my teeth working with a number of different Yorkshire pig farmers. I spent the majority of the next decade working for Tulip Ltd ultimately as Supply Chain Development Manager where building relationships with customers at both ends of the supply chain and bridging the gap between farm gate and retailer was my main focus, I also completed a PgC in Meat Business Management. Earlier as Eastern Chair for the YNPA and latterly elected on to the NPA AIG I recognise the needs for the full supply chain to work together to be successful and bring this collaborative approach to all ventures. In 2019 I re-joined AHDB as Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager and have since been promoted to the Head of Pork Knowledge Exchange, here I hope to continue to add value to our levy payers and I am committed to pushing the boundaries of the industry to ensure its success in the future.

Beth Austermuhle

Beth Austermuhle is Head of Technical at ForFarmers. In 2010 Beth graduated from Leeds University with a First Class degree in Animal Science. Since then Beth has worked in the feed industry and the last 10 of those has been at national feed supplier, ForFarmers. During her time with the business Beth has worked various roles including Commercial Nutritionist for the homemix nutrition industry. Beth has also recently completed a Master in Business Administration. Today, Beth’s role is to provide nutritional solutions and farm management advice on a national basis to UK pig producers. She is passionate about the practical application of cutting edge solutions developed by the companies’ international Nutrition and Innovation Centre as well as the use of data to aid producers in increasing their performance and profitability.

Pedigree Breeder of the Year Judge

Chris Impey

Chris Impey, is currently acting Chair of the British Pig Association and was the winner of the Pedigree Pig Breeder of the Year Award in 2019. He will be chairing a panel of 6 judges including independent judges from outside the organisation. Chris works for the Prison Service and first encountered pedigree pig whilst working on a prison farm. He was employed as the pig herd manager and has kept pigs ever since. As well as breeding his own Berkshire pigs and working with the Berkshire Pig Breeders Club he also Chairs the BPA Conservation Committee. He has also been involved with exports to several countries including Italy, Germany, Belgium amongst others and recently helped select the first shipment of traditional pedigree breeding pigs to Northern Ireland under the new protocol.

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