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The last year has been doubly disappointing for the Group. Not only, for the second year running, was any appropriate applicant available to receive the Beckett Award and join the 23 predecessors, but the Annual Group Weekend had to be cancelled because of Covid.

It was to have been a rather special weekend because it had been planned for all Scholars and partners to attend the 90th birthday celebration of the Beckett Award founder and sponsor, Alan Beckett, in April 2020. Apart from the party itself a programme of visits to local farming entrepreneurs had been arranged, and farmers from overseas were also joining in.

At the moment there are tentative plans to hold the 90th party – and therefore the Annual Group Weekend – in April 2021. But sadly at the moment we can only keep fingers crossed that the pandemic’s progress will have been sufficiently halted for this to take place.

In the meantime, naturally, the pandemic has had a major effect on some members of a Group originally selected for their entrepreneurial or innovative qualities. Some businesses – or parts of them - have been temporarily ruined, while others have survived and thrived. Over and above this, HS2 is now going ahead and will affect two of the Group; it will in fact run slap bang through the middle of the actual home of one couple. However, very much on the credit side, heartiest congratulations are due to Group member Tom Bradshaw who is now Vice President of the NFU