Marsh Award for Support Group Volunteer of the Year

This Award recognises support group volunteers who help promote rare breeds throughout the UK, put on shows and raise funds for events.

RBST has around 25 support groups made up of volunteers dedicated to rare breed conservation. Individual winners are selected on the contributions they have made in the previous 12 months within their support group

Nominations for the Award are put forward to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and are judged in partnership with the MCT.

Kelsey Ann Williamson 2022

Kelsey was one of the key figures in setting up Young RBST. She was the first RBST member to approach senior management in 2021 to say that younger members needed a stronger, more independent voice within the organisation. Along with some other volunteers, Kelsey established an initial group and organised Young RBST’s first AGM. By the end of 2021, Young RBST had just over 50 members and a programme of events organised for the year ahead. These members have been networking and attending shows together since then and their cohort continues to grow. Kelsey has been a consistent RBST Support Group volunteer for many years and her enthusiasm to include young people in the work of RBST has helped to ensure that the organisation stays relevant for years to come. 

Previous Winners

Helen Wray

Helen is Chair of the Dales RBST Support Group (in post for 2 years) and has been an RBST member with her husband for a number of years. She has rare breeds on her farm and sells rare breed wool. Helen is forward thinking and supportive of her Support Group.  

Francie Burns

Francine was a founding member of the Three Counties Support Group. She has arranged the attendance of the group at many shows since its inception, and in most cases attended herself as a representative of the group. Despite physical difficulties, Francine has always been about supporting and promoting the organisation, attending as many shows and support groups and meetings as possible to further the RBST’s cause. 

Norma Staniforth

Norma has been a stalwart of the Wiltshire RBST Support Group for over 25 years, during which time she has sustained her enthusiasm and dedication in number of roles, as member, Support Group meeting representative, Merchandising Officer and Secretary. Her integrity is beyond reproach and she can always be relied upon to attend events and shows to raise the profile of the Group and interface with the public.

Norma attends shows throughout the summer, often single-handed and in all winds and weathers. Despite declining numbers of local membership, Norma perseveres. Without her unstinting support and dedication, it is doubtful that the Group would have survived some of the membership uncertainty over the years.

Ernie and Joan Strachen and Janet Todhunter

Ernie and Joan Strachen 

Ernie and Joan work tirelessly to keep the RBST Northern Scotland group going, giving up many weekends to attend shows and events, sometimes travelling hundreds of miles to do so. The group would not exist in its current form without them. Ernie and Joan also breed sheep, keeping Black Wensleydales, Shetlands and Marinos, which they often take to shows. Joan also demonstrates spinning at shows and they both spend hours engaging the public with Rare Breeds and raising funds for the RBST.

Janet Todhunter

Janet has been involved with the RBST for many years since she joined the Lancashire Group, eventually becoming Secretary and the life blood of the County, taking on every practical idea and making them successful. She has undertaken hours of work for the group and the RBST by promoting the charity, raising public awareness and continuously and tirelessly working to help it achieve its core values.

Janet served as a Trustee of the RBST where she represented the Support Groups on the Council. During this time, she visited almost every group in the UK and was directly involved with a number of events in the North West.

Janet has a small herd of Gloucester cattle and was Chair of the Gloucester Cattle Society. Thanks to this, even in her retirement she is still the ‘go to’ person when any problems arise.

Angela Kingsnorth and David & Karen Griffiths

Angela Kingsnorth is the Secretary for the Cornwall Branch of the RBST, meeting the demands of Head Office, the day to day organisation of the group and arranging RBST displays at local agricultural and educational shows. Thanks to the useful contacts she has formed in her time as Secretary, there have been an increasing number and variety of rare breeds at coming to the shows that the group organises. Angela’s efficiency and cheerful attitude ensure that all aspects of the shows run smoothly, from the paperwork that breeders need to complete before the show, to ensuring that the positioning and housing of the animals during the show is up to scratch.

David and Karen Griffiths run Griffiths Mill in the Derbyshire Dales and, along with their son Callum, they keep Boreray, Cotswold, Lincoln and Wensleydale sheep. Alongside this, they promote the use of wool, and in particular, wool from rare breeds.
The Griffiths travel all over the country with their ‘Wooly Roadshow’ trailer, fitted out with a display of different types of yarn produced from their extensive archive of rare breed wools. Last year, the Wooly Roadshow travelled to shows across 28 days and at every one David and Karen were more than happy to spread the word about RBST. David is also the Chair of the Peak District RBST Group and a supporter of the Staffordshire Group.

Sula Gibbard and John and Anne Lane

Sula Gibbard

Sula has, almost single-handedly, run the Somerset Support Group for many years, as well as being a helper for RBST at a number of shows, including the Sedgemoor Show and Sale which she helped to establish. She has been key in implementing and maintaining the schemes for TB isolation in the area and has helped many young people become more heavily involved with the RBST through her work with Brymore School. In the past, Sula has also bred registered pigs and actively highlights the need for conservation grazing in Somerset.

John and Anne Lane

John and Anne have been members of the RBST since 1991 when they purchased their first North Ronaldsey Sheep, and since then have been active members of the Lancashire Support Group. They regularly show their sheep and are always happy to promote both the breed and the RBST with great enthusiasm, alongside the several different poultry that they breed and their Dartmoor pony. Anne was Secretary of the North Ronaldsey Fellowship and together with John, produced many leaflets and pamphlets for members. They are always willing to help and share their knowledge and have worked tirelessly to promote the work of the RBST.

David Walton and Brian Hunter

David Walton

David has been breeding several types of rare sheep for over 25 years. He is a renowned judge of all rare sheep and a long-term member of the RBST Committee in Lancashire, where he has held the post of Chairman for over 7 years. He is a great spokesperson for RBST and encourages people to join the organisation and gives support and advice to new breeders. David was responsible for the RBST Young Shepherd Competition being held throughout the country and has been the lead organiser behind a number of shows.

Brian Hunter

Brian has been involved with the RBST for over 15 years and has worked tirelessly to promote rare breeds. He has served as a committee member for the Northern Ireland Support Group, as Treasurer and Chair, and has also supported the RBST Show and Sale, liaising with sponsors and cataloguing information. Brian commits all the time he gives to the RBST voluntarily and has always been driven by his commitment to the conservation of rare breeds.