Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award with the RBST

This Award celebrates an individual for their outstanding and long term commitment to the RBST and to the conservation of rare breeds.

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

Dr Thomas Cole 2022

Thomas has dedicated the last 35 years of his life to RBST in Northern Ireland, whilst also working tirelessly for the NHS as an eye surgeon. He has been a figurehead of the RBST Support Group in Northern Ireland, serving on the committee in a number of roles including as Treasurer. Thomas has been responsible for the presence of well over 10 different rare breeds in Northern Ireland, making frequent trips across the water to import livestock including sheep, cattle, goats and turkeys, for himself and to distribute around the province. He has been a leading force in the running of events and shows and continues his support of RBST across Northern Ireland in his retirement years. Thomas has been keen to pass his knowledge on to the younger generation and often makes donations to the RBST. He is often invited to judge at shows and events around the UK and is a member of a number of rare breeds societies. Thomas is a true gentleman and his 35 years of hard work for a number of different breeds and the RBST in Northern Ireland deserves to be recognised. 

Previous Winners

Gail Sprake

Gail is and longstanding member and Secretary of the East Anglia RBST Support Group and the outgoing Chair of the Board of Trustees during a period of great transition. She has been instrumental in the Trust taking advantage of the changes in the political landscape following Brexit. She has travelled the country to promote RBST and is extremely supportive to others. Gail and her husband also farm rare and native breeds commercially. 

Peter Hayford

Peter has been a member of the RBST for many decades. He is an active RBST Devon Support Group Chair and attends many shows including Devon County Show and the new Lost Gardens of Heligan. He is the RBST Poultry Ambassador and a founder member of the RBST Poultry Working Group. Peter has been a farmer for over 70 years, whilst poultry is his main interest, he also has cattle. His time is spent not only supporting chickens, but also ducks, turkey and geese. Peter is Chairman of the Turkey Club and a lifetime member of the Poultry Club. Peter has been involved with the Rare Poultry Society for 50 years and has been the Society’s President for several years. He is the RPS Registrar for the North Hollan Blue and has been helping to save the Modern Langshan at the RBST approved Kingston Mauward farm park in Dorchester. A man of integrity, Peter is a highly respected Championship poultry judge and has perhaps one of the largest collections of rare poultry in the UK. Friendly and approachable, Peter is always willing to help and advise where he can. 


Joe Burn

Joe has worked with native and rare breeds for most of his adult life and has been an active member of the RBST for many years. Between 1990 and 2001, Joe ran a rare breed farm park until it was forced to close due to foot and mouth disease. Since then, he has gradually restocked with sheep, focusing on Greyface, Dartmoors, Lincoln Longwool, Norfolk Horn, Herdwick and Shetland.

Joe is an active volunteer for the Border Group and helps to man stalls at the Royal Highland and Border Union shows as well as providing animals for school visits and any other event that he is asked to assist with.

Mary and Donald McGillivray

Mary and Donald have spent forty years helping to ensure the survival of the Eriskay Pony, one of the most critically endangered equine breeds. Their contribution has been so significant that 25% of all living Eriskays were either bred by Mary and Donald or are descended from ponies bred by them.

Mary, with Donald’s support, is a lynchpin in the Eriskay Pony Society and has served on the Council in numerous roles, currently as breeding advisor, and she has amassed an encyclopaedic knowledge of ponies and bloodlines.

Mary and Donald are active members of the RBST Caledonian Support Group and are always willing to help out at shows and events, taking ponies for display or providing a demonstration using authentic harnesses and creels. Donald is highly sought after to provide the commentary at such events due to his knowledge of the breed and its history.

Arthur Green

Arthur has committed a lifetime of service to the RBST, particularly to the Leicester Longwool Sheep Association. When the Group ran into some major difficulties, Arthur stepped in as Chairman and spent many hours sorting out the problems and re-forming the committee, and was instrumental in guiding the association to become a Company. Thanks to Arthur’s dedication, the current committee was able to continue concentrating on the breeding of and looking after live sheep. In fact, they were able to rebuild the National Flock of Longwools Sheep and move them from the Endangered to the Vulnerable category. Arthur was always available on the phone and at functions to help members and his support enabled the group to flourish into the strong Association that it is today.



Vikki Mills

Vikki has worked tirelessly for all breeds of pigs for many years. In the 1980’s she won five major shows with five different breeds of pigs and over the years she has served as Deputy Chairman of the British Pig Association, a founder of the Berkshire Pig Breeders Club and was one of the original pig surveyors for the RBST.

While in post as a Vice President of the British Pig Association, Vikki attended many committee meetings where her knowledge and enthusiasm were greatly valued. She has also previously chaired the RBST conservation committee and in this role acted as the vital link between the RBST and the British Pig Association. While on the Board of RBST she acted as RBST Consultant at Bicton College and organised the livestock section at the immensely popular Lambeth Show. Her last sow, a Tamworth, went to the RBST Approved Conservation Centre, Bill Quay Community Farm in Newcastle, and has helped to start a very successful breeding programme there.

David Bradley and Neville and Maureen Turner

David Bradley

David has been farm manager of Leeds City Council’s Temple Newsam Home Farm, an RBST Approved Conservation Farm Park renowned for quality and breeding, since 1981. He has served as an RBST Trustee and is a past Chairman of the Trust’s Conservation Committee. David is also a well-respected livestock judge, and someone shares his extensive knowledge and expertise freely.

Neville and Maureen Turner

Husband and wife Neville and Maureen, keep a wide range of rare breed livestock including sheep, goats, ponies and cattle, including Vaynol cattle which are one of the rarest breeds in the world. They have been members of the RBST and have played an active role in the Lincolnshire support group, serving on its committee for over 20 years. They have bought and bred animals to display and promote on RBST stands at agricultural and country shows and are outstanding ambassadors for the RBST.

Ron Foster

Ron kept at least 40 rare breeds including poultry, pigs and Kerry, Longhorn and British White cattle. He joined RBST in 1973 to help protect rare breeds in Yorkshire from extinction and was an active member of the organisation, especially at grassroots level. He was well respected amongst local farmers as someone who remained true to his passion for rare breeds over the years.

Ron sat on many committees relating to farming at National and Local Level, and served as Chairman of the York RBST Group for a number of years. He took part in numerous local shows and regularly provided impressive displays of rare poultry. He was also instrumental in encouraging show committees to allow a rare breed class to showcase the work of the RBST to the public.

Eric Freeman and Robin Otter

Eric Freeman

Eric is a Gloucestershire farmer, broadcaster and raconteur who breeds Gloucester cattle, Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Cotswold sheep, heavy horses, poultry and waterfowl and grows local varieties of apples and pears. He also promotes and encourages the preservation of agricultural heritage by supporting traditional methods of farming and the conservation of rare and native breeds of livestock.

Eric is a founding member of the Gloucester Cattle society, serving as its President and longest serving council member, retiring in 2009. He was also a founder member of the Gloucestershire Old Spots Breeders Club and one of the earliest members of RBST.

Robin Otter

Robin spent 20 years on the council of the Three Counties Agricultural Society and was a council member of the RBST during the innovative years of the 1970s and 1990s. He is a founding member of the Gloucester Cattle Society and served as its first President before spending nearly 25 years on the Council. He is a life member of the RBST and his fervour and steadfast contribution to the conservation of rare breeds have been noteworthy.

John Brigg

John is a founding member of the RBST and was asked to attend initial meetings at Stoneleigh in his capacity of Secretary to the Longhorn Cattle Society, where he was particularly responsible for improving the fortunes of the breed and the reinstatement of Society breed sales. He continues to be involved with Longhorn and Beef Shorthorn cattle, Oxford Down sheep and Wiltshire Horn Sheep which have been in his family for generations.

Following the discontinuation of the annual RBST Show and Sale at Stoneleigh, John played a key role in setting up the Annual Native Breed Show and Sales at Melton Mowbray and was the inaugural Chairman of their steering committee.