A NEWLY graduated assistant farm manager has been crowned one of the best farmers in the country.

Jack Bedlow, who lives just outside Didcot, was named Farm Worker of the Year at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham this month ­– just five months after starting his job.

The 23-year-old, who ‘loves farming’, said he was proud and surprised by the recognition.

Now living in Moreton and working on nearby A.G. Hedges Farm and M.E.S. Dart and Partners farm, Mr Bedlow beat off competition on a shortlist of five, including far more experienced contenders.

Nominated by his boss Patricia Dart – who jointly runs the family farms with husband Angus – Mr Bedlow had a long telephone interview with judges before winning the award.

More than 700 farmers and industry professionals attended the British Farming Awards, which showcased the industry’s innovation and achievements.

Mrs Dart said: “We are delighted that Jack’s ability, enthusiasm and efforts have been recognised with this well-deserved award.

“Jack works hard to enable us to integrate technology and embrace change at a practical level on farm. We feel this is essential for our business to survive the current changing and challenging times.”

Mr Bedlow, who works with the small arable team, says he was trying to improve ‘technical literacy’ on the farm.

He explained: “I worked here during my placement year and I didn’t expect to be offered a job.

“I have only just graduated from [Reading] uni and and hopefully the things I am doing are making a positive impact on the business itself.”

He has collated farm yield maps, moved records to an app to save paperwork and implemented a new service record system for farm machinery.

He continued: “I am quite proud really – it feels good to get recognition from my business. They all came along to the awards – it was great to feel appreciated.”

The judges paid tribute to his ‘clearly valued’ input and said he ‘represented the future, which will be more focused on innovation, business leadership and application of new technologies.’

Mr Bedlow, who hopes to get further up the management chain, added: “From a young age I have always been mad keen about farming. I do whatever jobs need doing - we work long hours doing different things - its very interesting because it's always different.”