Gillian, who is also Head of Farm Support at farming charity Rural Support, has spent her entire career working in the agricultural sector and describes her working life as a vocation and a labour of love.
Her life and work has always revolved around farming. Coming from several generations of farmers, Gillian is a key part of the family’s dairy, sheep and arable farm with her husband Carl in Glarryford, Gillian and Carl have three daughters in their 20s – Jessica, farmer; Cathy – teacher in a rural primary school; Suzanne – agri-vet in training.
Gillian started her career outside the farm working in banking where she managed agri-business lending and then later having three young children and a busy farm business of her own to manage, she moved to work as a Business Mentor and Facilitator with farmers and their families, and producer groups on various Rural Development programmes. Gillian joined Rural Support as a Farm Business Mentor in 2014 where she was involved in providing mentoring and support to farm businesses in relation to finance and business improvement. In 2018 Gillian moved onto the role of Finance and Development Officer where she held responsibility for developing new programmes and income streams, and more recently was appointed Head of Farm Support, responsible for the management of the Farm Support Unit, ensuring that Rural Support’s services and programmes meet the needs of farming families across NI. She is responsible for a team of 18 staff and agri business mentors delivering mentoring, counselling, and training to thousands of farming families in support of their business and personal wellbeing.
Veronica Morris, Chief Executive of Rural Support said: “There is genuinely no better woman for this award than Gillian. She simply lives and breathes farming and the farming sector whether as a partner with her husband Carl in their dairy, sheep and arable farm, in her role at Rural Support where she has responsibility for delivery of our farm support services and programmes, and in her voluntary work in Glarryford where she is deeply embedded in the community through its Farmers’ Hall which she helped secure funding for. She cares so much about our farmers and their families.”