Recognising outstanding performance by a woman in the fresh produce industry over the past year.

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1. Harriet Duncalfe (Berry Gardens)

 We would like to nominate Harriet Duncalfe of H&H Duncalfe for her tireless work over many years supporting cutting-edge research and disseminating it.  

During her career, Harriet has been a member of the DEFRA Hort LINK Programme Management Committee, an industry representative to the Horticultural Innovation Partnership and chair of the ADHB Soft Fruit Panel for several terms. While chair of the Soft Fruit Panel, Harriet was instrumental in the formation of the UK Spotted Wing Drosophila Working Group (UKSWDWG). SWD is currently one of the biggest threats to fresh fruit, and producers in countries where SWD is rampant have suffered significant losses.  

As UKSWDWG chair, Harriet ensured its 25-strong membership comprised representatives of all stakeholders including government policymakers, regulators, scientists and industry sectors. The main objective of UKSWDWG was to be prepared for the arrival of SWD, and ensure that there was a co-ordinated approach to managing information and the approval of chemical controls.

By raising funds from a range of sources, Harriet also enabled a comprehensive research programme into SWD to be carried out, which was managed by the group. As a result, the UK has not suffered a significant problem with SWD to date.

"As an industry, we owe Harriet a great debt in fighting a highly difficult pest", adds Jacqui Green, Berry Gardens CEO.

Currently, Harriet chairs Berry Gardens' Grower Research Advisory Panel and, in her spare time, she mentors PhD students, offering invaluable insight and support in their chosen field.

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2. Jill Witheyman (Angus Soft Fruits)

Jill Witheyman has been the marketing manager at Angus Soft Fruits for almost 12 years and has demonstrated herself to be innovative and efficient, with the unique ability to understand our marketplace and produce outstanding results for the company.

In the past year alone, Jill has worked with 15 schools to develop a comprehensive educational programme written in line with the National Curriculum (England) and Curriculum for Excellence (Scotland), providing hands-on learning experiences for children and helping to forge strong relationships with our communities. Jill has also implemented a new charity programme and developed a calendar of fundraising events, leading from the front by running 8.5 miles in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival team relay race. Her initiative has not only strengthened team spirit but has also facilitated our colleagues to get fitter.

Jill works hard to ensure all staff are on board with the company’s core values and mission, streamlining internal communications & implementing the first ASF Employee Recognition Awards, “Pick of the Crop” and newsletter “The Pick”

To aid company growth, Jill developed our 2019 Strategic Marketing Plan to increase awareness amongst end consumers of our premium berry brand, AVA™ Berries. She developed a partnership with the Edinburgh Marathon Festival as their ‘Official Strawberry Supplier’ and led a series of sampling events at key Edinburgh retailers. This is producing an excellent return on investment, with +13,000 people tasting AVA Berries & brand visibility across the week +40,000. 

In conclusion, a wide-ranging portfolio of challenging projects delivered with excellent results.

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3. Sally Orange (Fruity Endurance Athlete)

Inspired by her surname, Sally completed her first marathon dressed as an orange, in a bid to show that sport and exercise doesn’t have to be about being the fastest or the fittest, but is about having fun, making others smile and has raised over £30,000 for charity in the process. She has completed 45 marathons (including one on every continent) dressed as different pieces of fruit and has a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a piece of fruit (as well as another for running as a nut!)

Sally’s zest for life is not confined to running and she has been known to stay fresh by climbing Kilimanjaro…dressed as a bunch of grapes, complete Ironman triathlons…dressed as an apple, and ran and cycled 100 miles across a frozen lake in Mongolia in temperatures as low as -50….dressed as a chilli pepper. She has also ran as a banana in Afghanistan and a pear in Antarctica.

She has a strong desire to help others achieve their own goals, however big or small, and is more than simply a participant. Sally has now taken to applying her talents to mentoring, educating and organising, bringing inspiration to a variety of audiences and has also started a series of events aimed at children. These interactive workshops promote health and wellbeing through physical activity and healthy eating, dispelling myths on mental health and engender confidence, by telling her own story with honesty, humility and humour.