East Anglian turkey farmers gather for annual banquet

Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) president Derek Kelly and guest of honour Sally Hawkins.

Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) president Derek Kelly and guest of honour Sally Hawkins. - Credit: Archant

Around 130 farmers and friends gathered near Colchester to celebrate excellence in the region’s turkey sector.

From left, Sally Hawkins with Dave French of Cottage Farms and Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) cha

From left, Sally Hawkins with Dave French of Cottage Farms and Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) chairman Martin Shea. - Credit: Archant

The Anglian Turkey Association (ATA), the country’s sole remaining regional association for turkey production, hosted its annual banquet and show at Stoke by Nayland Hotel.

Farmers from across the region brought plucked turkeys to compete in various classes, before enjoying a turkey feast and listening to some of the industry’s key figures.

ATA president Derek Kelly, of Danbury-based Kelly Turkeys, presented Sally Hawkins with the prestigious Goodchild Trophy, in recognition of her contribution to the sector. Most notably, she founded SCF Turkeys, which eventually became part of Hockenhull Turkeys.

Chairman Martin Shea paid tribute to Mrs Hawkins.

“For more than three decades, Sally has been involved in the Traditional Farm Fresh business, both as a hatching egg and poult supplier, as well as a producer of turkeys for the Christmas market,” he said.

As guest of honour, she was asked to judge the traditional show. Farms from across the south-east entered various classes with birds that were either “oven ready” or “New York dressed”, as seen in butchers’ shops.

Most Read

“Once again the show of traditional turkeys was outstanding,” she said. “The care and preparation taken by the producers has resulted in an excellent shop window for the quality of the traditional Farm Fresh turkey.”

Cottage Farms, based near Sevenoaks, Kent, scooped the award for Best In Show. The company has enjoyed regular success in the competition over many years and this time it was its oven-ready bird that stole the show.

Blackwell’s Farm Produce of Coggeshall scooped the Marriage’s Cup for medium-sized hens, the most keenly-entered category. Other prize winners included Ian Wylie from Cambridgeshire, Philip Hunter from Suffolk and William Weeks from Essex.

“The farms exceed their high standards every year,” said show organiser James Marriage, of Chelmsford-based feed millers W & H Marriage & Sons.

“Decisions on winning birds were made on the smallest of visual differences, but all of these traditional turkeys would taste superb.”

The president also presented a memento to retiring secretary Len Goodman.

“It is inscribed with the words ‘In recognition of 23 years success as secretary of the Anglian Turkey Association’ and that says it all. We still look forward to seeing him at our meetings,” said Mr Kelly.

The ATA will continue to meet four times each year, starting with its Post Mortem gathering at 8pm on January 10 at Prested Hall, near Colchester.

For more information, contact Martin Shea on 01829 772032.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter