Food Heroes of the Year: Great Food Club Awards 2023/4
Chosen by our judges:
Selected by the GFC team:
Jane Tomlinson, co-founder, Redhill Farm Free Range Pork, Lincolnshire
Sara Barton, founder, Brewsters Brewery, Grantham
Matthew O’Callaghan, founder, British Pie Awards & Artisan Cheese Awards
Stephen Gould, MD, Everards of Leicestershire
This year, our judges chose two winners of our Food & Drink Hero category – both pioneers in their respective areas: Jane Tomlinson and Sara Barton.
Nearly 25 years ago, Jane Tomlinson saw an opportunity to cut through the confusion created by misleading pork labelling in the UK. Juggling the demands of farming and a young family, she relentlessly worked to establish Redhill Farm Free Range Pork, a business focused on quality, animal welfare, honesty and reliability.
Her holistic approach extended to the community, as she singlehandedly set up six farmers’ markets in Lincolnshire to provide an alternative to supermarket chains.
Fiercely independent and driven by a need to make informed choices, Jane’s entrepreneurial spirit has made a significant impact on local food access and animal welfare. She is a beacon of hard work and dedication, illustrating what can be achieved when passion meets purpose.
As a result, Redhill Farm Free Range Pork has bagged numerous awards, including being a past double winner of the GFC Food Producer of the Year. The pinnacle came when they won the Great Taste Awards Supreme Champion 2020 for their free-range pork shoulder, standing out among 13,000 entries.
For over two decades, Jane and her husband Terry have focused on ethical farming with unparalleled animal welfare standards. This meticulous approach translates into exceptional-quality pork, as attested by renowned chef Michel Roux Jr.
Their on-farm butchery, bakery, and smokehouse exemplify craftsmanship, proving that quality is no accident but a result of deliberate effort and skill.
Sara Barton, the trailblazing founder of Brewster’s Brewing Company, has been a force of innovation and inspiration in the brewing world. With a master’s degree in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University, Sara took the bold step to establish her own brewing company in 1998, at a time when female representation in the industry was scant.
Brewster’s Brewery, located in Grantham, Lincolnshire, is a testament to Sara’s commitment to quality and innovation, producing a wide variety of craft beers such as Hophead, Marquis and Decadence.
Her impact on the industry extends beyond her own enterprise. In 2012, she became the first woman to be awarded the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year Award, followed by the 2019 Institute of Brewing and Distilling Brewer of the Year honour. Additionally, she initiated Project Venus in 2011, a collaborative group dedicated to supporting women brewers.
Sara also has the distinction of being named ‘All Party Parliamentary Brewer of the Year.’ She helped to revive the term “brewster,” an old English word for a female brewer, bringing it back into the contemporary lexicon. Beyond the brewery, Sara extends her passion for brewing into the community with Brewster’s pub, The Marquis of Granby in Granby village, Nottinghamshire, and offers canned beers through her brewery shop and online platform.
It is her innovative approach, dedication to the craft, and pioneering initiatives for women in brewing that make Sara Barton our deserving joint-winner of the Food Hero of the Year trophy.
The other finalists
Stephen Gould, managing director of Everards, has led this family-owned business since 2005. In that time, he has overseen the brewery’s expansion and transformation, including its move to a new state-of-the-art facility at Everards Meadows.
Beyond his business acumen, Stephen is highly regarded for his progressive, positive and supportive relationship with entrepreneurs, particularly in the pub sector. Through joint-investment initiatives, he has helped breathe new life into community establishments.
Additionally, his creation of the Everards Community Fund shows a commitment to local initiatives and charities. Recognised as one of the UK’s kindest business leaders by the Women of the Future Programme, Stephen’s contributions make him a worthy finalist.
Dr. Matthew O’Callaghan
Dr. Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and a food historian, is a compelling finalist for our Food Hero of the Year trophy.
Awarded an OBE for his services to the food industry and small businesses, Matthew has been transformative in elevating Melton Mowbray to the “Rural Capital of Food”. His leadership in securing Protected Geographical Indication for the iconic Melton Mowbray Pork Pie helped not just to preserve its heritage but also to revitalise a rural economy.
Matthew organises a raft of successful food events in Melton Mowbray including the East Midlands Food Festival, the British Pie Awards, PieFest, the Artisan Cheese Awards and the Artisan Cheese Fair.
His efforts are not just about food but also about community development and economic revitalisation.