John Dennison Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Blaise Tomlinson

18th March 2020

Breeder of legendary Sandyford Clover 10 receives accolade

At Borderway UK Dairy Expo in Carlisle, Blaise Tomlinson owner of the pedigree Sandyford herd of Ayrshire cows in Loughborough, was announced as the 2020 recipient of the John Dennison Lifetime Achievement Award.

This highly acclaimed award, established in memory of Cumbrian dairy farmer John Dennison, aims to recognise a dairy cattle breeder who is judged to be a high achiever and exemplary role model. It is given to an advocate judged to demonstrate the traits of the award’s namesake – a high achiever and exemplary role model within the dairy industry, demonstrating the perfect combination of ability, sportsmanship, integrity and character within this livestock sector.

Announcing this year’s winner, Harrison & Hetherington’s Auctioneer, Glyn Lucas and one of the award judges said: “On behalf of the Dennison family I would just like to say that with so many tremendous nominations, judging and choosing the recipient really is a challenging task. However, in the end it was a unanimous decision to award it to Blaise Tomlinson who had received numerous impassioned nominations.

Blaise Tomlinson receiving the award from the Dennison Family

These demonstrated his dedication to his family farm and herd, the dairy industry and supporting the next generation as a mentor to and educator of young farmers. He was notably described by his daughter as: ‘A man who definitely lives and breathes farming.’”

Blaise has been farming all his life and is a third-generation dairy farmer, firstly farming with his father in Lancashire and latterly in Leicestershire on the Charnwood Forest Farm. Eric, his father, started the Sandyford Ayrshire herd 50 years ago and Blaise joined him at home after leaving school. The very next year when Blaise was 17, he first showed a Sandyford cow and over the years he has had much success.

Since 2007, Blaise has farmed 400 head of pedigree Ayrshire cattle at Charnwood Forest Farm near Loughborough and is one of the most highly regarded Ayrshire breeders in both the UK and the World. His Sandyford herd is home to many show winning cows and heifers and those carrying the Sandyford prefix consistently stand at the top of shows across the UK, be it ones exhibited by the Tomlinson family or ones that they have sold on. Blaise is also proud owner to probably one of the most well-known red and white cows in the UK, Sandyford Clover 10. Her fame is due to her prolific show success as well as a wide lineage of winning offspring, with accolades for every big show in the UK. An Ayrshire breed record was set in December at the Black & White sale when a grand daughter of Clover sold for 14,000gns.

Respected by young and old, what really stood out within Blaise’s nominations, was the countless accounts of his support of young farmers, helping youngsters to get their animals to show, holding Ayrshire rallies at his farm providing calves and facilities and also helping organise both the Ayrshire and Holstein National Young Members Weekend. In support of the next generation of enthusiastic farmers, he currently houses various cows for families that don’t have the facilities but want to learn more about the business. For many years he has also sent some of the best cows to the National Ayrshire show to be prepared and shown by the young breeders within the society. The list goes on.

His commitment to dairy farming is in no doubt and his strong reputation within the industry means he is a long-standing respected judge, travelling all over the world as an ambassador. Blaise also commits a great deal of his busy life to Breed Clubs, he has previously been past Chairman of The Lancashire & Derbyshire Ayrshire and has been Chairman of the East Midlands Holstein Clubs for the past four years, as well as being on the Board of Ayrshire Breed Development.

On being presented with his award by the Dennison family, Blaise said: “To be named in the same breath as John Dennison is a massive honour.  John was a fantastic fella who was lost to this industry far too early.”

Looking at the list of all the previous winners, they were all great men of the dairy industry who won previously.  All have the same interest – all love dairy cows, all love milk producers, all love showing cows and being part of the showing world.”

Previous winners of the John Dennison Lifetime Achievement Award are as follows: –

2013    Mike Miller from Shanael Holsteins
2014    Mr John Gribbon noted UK and international figure in the dairy industry
2015    Sam McCormick owner of the Hilltara Herd
2016    Alister Laird of Blyth Bridge
2017    Mark Nutsford from the Riverdane Herd
2018    Jimmy Wilson from the Tregibby Herd in Cardigan, Wales
2019   Bill Nadin, from the Sterndale Holstein herd.

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