The Judges

Chair of Judges

Meurig Raymond 

Former President, NFU 

Meurig is a farmer and advocate of British farming. He was President of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales (NFU) from 2014 to 2018. He also served as Deputy President for eight years and Vice President for two years. He was extensive experience of working with farmers, policy makers and key stakeholders to develop, effective solutions to farming and countryside issues. In 1989 Meurig was elected as Pembrokeshire NFU County Chairman. 

Meurig was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal Agricultural University in 2018 and was presented with an Honorary Doctorate from Harper Adams University in 2014. He was awarded an MBE and CBE for outstanding services to the farming sector in the Queens New Year’s Honours list in 2014 and 2019 respectively. In 2019 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Dyfed. 


Jill Hewitt

Chief Executive Officer, NAAC

Jill is Chief Executive of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and also runs her own business, Springtime Consultancy, specialising in project management, lobbying and communications.

She is passionate about all things farming and values her role at the NAAC as being able to influence the industry and make positive change for the contracting sector. Big ‘wins’ for Jill have been the recognition of agricultural contractors by government on issues from fuel, to grant funding for the industry.

Jill grew up on a farm in Lincolnshire, is a Winston Churchill Memorial Scholar, a Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural Management and has completed the Institute’s Leadership Development Programme. She also holds a place on the BASIS Board, VI Board and Farm Safety Partnership Board.

Stephen Jacob

Chief Executive Officer, BASIS Registration

Stephen Jacob is the Chief Executive of BASIS Registration Ltd. an independent professional standards organisation. He leads the team responsible for conducting pesticide store audits and administering exams and training in the crop protection and crop nutrition industry. Under his leadership they assess over 3,000 candidates per year.

BASIS also manages the CPD of over 13,000 members, including the BASIS Professional Register, FACTS and BASIS PROMPT, a register of professional pest control technicians.  

Stephen’s career has included working in plant breeding, crop protection, agronomy and farm management.

He has a passion for continuing learning which has included gaining qualifications in both biology and business management with the Open University. This made his move to BASIS a natural career progression.

John Swire

Editor, Agronomist and Arable Farmer

John Swire is editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years working on the family dairy farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry.  

Simon Lewis

Publisher and Managing Director, Lewis Business Media 

Simon is the Publisher of The Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Contractor and Large Scale Farming, Group Managing Director of its parent company, Lewis Business Media. Simon has been a judge of several award schemes in many different industries in the past including those in the farming, SQP and retail sectors. Simon brings a wealth of business management experience to the panel.



Matt Tilt

Chief Reporter, Farm Contractor and Large Scale Farming

Matthew Tilt is machinery editor for Farm Contractor & Large Scale Farmer. Coming from a contracting background, he’s passionate about the innovation and resilience shown across agriculture.


Through putting together the reader profiles seen in each issue of Farm Contractor, Matt has seen how farms and contract operations of all sizes have developed in a rapidly changing industry.