Celebrating Excellence in Agri-Food Careers

Celebrating Excellence in Agri-Food Careers

Our 2024 Annual Conference was an inspiring event highlighting the exceptional achievements and contributions within the agri-food industry. Held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, the event highlighted our Trainees and Member companies’ dedication, hard work, and talent.The awards portion of the event celebrates the exceptional achievements, leadership qualities, and contributions of Trainees and Member companies within the agri-food industry. Here’s the rundown of our exceptional winners for this year’s awards.

Doug Henderson Award: Harvey Riches

The most coveted award of the day, the Doug Henderson Award, was presented to Harvey Riches. This award recognises a Trainee who has demonstrated exceptional performance, leadership qualities, and personal achievements throughout their secondments. Harvey is quietly determined to succeed, consistently professional, and possesses excellent communication skills. He is passionate about excellence and is a well-respected individual. It has been a great pleasure to work with this trainee and witness his growth.

Harvey was pleased to win the award:

“The Annual Conference is so important to facilitate connection and networking across the food and agriculture industry. Every time I have attended, I have left with a renewed motivation, inspiration, and sense of purpose. This time was even more special. It’s a real honour to win the award. It really is the cherry on the cake of what has been such an incredible and formative experience. I’m really grateful to everyone—managers, mentors, and Trainees—who have supported me throughout the scheme. The MDS programme will present so many opportunities and help to open so many doors. My advice to future Trainees is to say yes and seize every opportunity. Take advantage of the opportunity to build your professional network and make friends for life.”

Harvey Riches accepts his agri-food careers award
Harvey celebrates his win with MDS CEO Saffy Waterson.

Peter Shepherd Award: Corteva Agriscience

The Peter Shepherd Award was awarded to Corteva Agriscience for their unwavering support and dedication to the development and learning of MDS Trainees. Corteva is a stellar example of an MDS Member that goes above and beyond, continually fostering the development of Trainees. They work diligently to unlock the potential of Trainees, ensuring they are challenged, supported, and acknowledged. Every Trainee who has had the opportunity to work with the company has provided hugely positive feedback. It’s inspiring to see our alumni grow and now give back by supporting new Trainees in their agri-food careers.

Pherenice Noble, Marketing Communications Manager at Corteva commented on the award:

“We are honoured to receive the Peter Shepherd Award this year. As members of the MDS graduate programme for 5 years, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming a number of talented Trainees to Corteva. The MDS programme has provided Corteva with a great pipeline of well-rounded, trained future leaders and we’ve extended permanent positions to several Trainees where opportunities have been available. Currently, 75% of our Marketing Communications and Customer Relationship Management team comprises MDS alumni. Our partnership with MDS not only enables us to collaborate with graduates who have an interest in the food and agriculture sector, but also to contribute to nurturing the skills required for the next generation of industry leaders.  We wish all MDS trainees the very best success with their placements and future agri-food careers.”


Corteva collect their agri food careers award
MDS Alumna Weronika and Ellie collect the Peter Shepherd on behalf of Corteva

David Bagshaw Award: Lauren Saville

Lauren Saville was honoured with the David Bagshaw Award, which acknowledges outstanding performance in professional training. Presented by skills coach Hayley Williams-Dixon, this award celebrates Trainees who have shown remarkable dedication and achievement in their leadership and management training programme.

Skills Coach Hayley Williams-Dixon presented this award and noted that Lauren has consistently produced exceptional quality work, fully applying herself and pushing beyond her comfort zone. She is punctual, kind, gracious, dedicated, and a pleasure to work alongside.

Lauren was really proud of her achievements:

“The apprenticeship training is an excellent opportunity for us to expand and strengthen our skill sets while reflecting on our experiences during secondments. What we have learned has undoubtedly shaped us into braver, more capable future leaders, prepared to tackle current and emerging challenges facing our industry. I’m really honoured to receive the David Bagshaw Award. I’m incredibly thankful to Hayley and all the Training Coaches for their support and for sharing their expertise with us over the past two years.

“I really advise future Trainees to embrace the apprenticeship wholeheartedly. The training courses will help you grow both professionally and personally. It might feel overwhelming at times to juggle assignments alongside a full-time secondment but stay determined and keep pushing forward—you can do it!”

Lauren collects her agri food careers award
Lauren celebrates her award win

Special Recognition Award: Hayley Williams-Dixon

Hayley was nominated for her outstanding work as a skills coach, supporting MDS Trainees through their 2-year leadership and management training programme. Thanks to Hayley and the Apprenticeship College, MDS has achieved an unprecedented 89 out of 90 distinctions in the programme. Her proactive and dedicated approach ensures our Trainees receive maximum exposure and development, setting them up for success in their agri-food careers.

Reflecting on her achievement, Hayley said:

“I feel truly honoured to have won the award. I’m fortunate to be involved in the Trainees’ amazing experiences throughout the programme and witness how they develop incredible leadership skills by putting their workshop knowledge into practice. I believe this programme shapes the future leaders of our businesses, and I am proud to be part of that journey.”

Rising Stars

The Rising Star Award recognises Trainees who have made a significant difference in their roles, showing exceptional promise and hard work. This year, 11 outstanding Trainees were selected to receive this honour.

  • Tanya Peters: Nominated by Fenna Kester and Pablo Rugeroni, Syngenta
  • Grace Walker: Nominated by Debbie Brodley and Richard Shipston, JDM
  • Huw Tong: Nominated by Mike Brett, Weetabix
  • Jamilla Mohammed: Nominated by Lauren Colagiovanni, NIAB, Growing Kent and Medway
  • Tom Porter: Nominated by Dominic Chatwin, Syngenta
  • Sebastian Daggett: Nominated by Jai Patel, Fleurie Nurseries
  • Christian Laroque: Nominated by Alison Sharp, Noble Foods
  • Beth McGrory: Nominated by Sarah Pitts, Vitacress Herbs
  • Jess Clark: Nominated by Ellie Churchill, Corteva Agriscience
  • Vineet Khattri: Nominated by Gill McWilliam, Noble Foods
  • Danielle Preissner: Nominated by Dr Tim Johnson, AM Fresh

This year’s conference was a fantastic celebration of individual and collective achievements and a testament to the agri-food industry. We are so proud of all our Trainees and Members and excited for the future of agri-food careers.