NFU Scotland’s prestigious Ambassador Award has been presented posthumously to popular and talented agricultural journalist Joe Watson. Joe who was a well known and respected journalist died suddenly at the age of 43 in March 2014.
Established by the Union in 2009 and supported by NFU Mutual, the Ambassador award was set up to recognise those individuals who, through their own efforts, have played an influential role in communicating the work, challenges and the value of Scottish farming and food to a wider audience.
The award was presented at the Union’s annual dinner, held in St Andrews last night (Monday, 9 February) in front of 500 guests and delegates. It was accepted by Joe’s mother, Mirren; his brothers Fraser and Murdo, Murdo’s partner Tracey and Joe’s nephew and niece, Joe jnr and Amy.
NFUS and NFU Mutual wanted to jointly recognise the enormous contribution and effort made by Joe in covering agricultural and food issues in the Press and Journal newspaper and his work as an ambassador for the North East, Scotland and the UK.
At the age of 26, Joe was appointed agricultural editor of the P and J, growing into an award-winning writer and a driving force in agricultural journalism. He built his reputation on accurate and incisive reporting and was never afraid to tackle controversial issues or ask awkward questions to get to the bottom of matters. A past chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, and its representative on the International Guild, Joe won the regional agricultural editor of the year award on several occasions.
In presenting the award, Vice President Allan Bowie said
Joe’s death shocked and saddened the farming community but it is fitting that, as a Union, we celebrate and mark Joe’s massive contribution to Scottish food and farming. He achieved an enormous amount but in too short a space of time. It is extremely special that we can share our celebration and this award with Joe’s family.
Joe had a drive and passion for his work that was unparalleled, covering hundreds of miles every week to ensure his readers had the very best and latest information. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of agricultural and food issues and all their complexities. His work was highly regarded as providing a balanced and informed view and was appreciated in the Press and Journal by both the farming community and the wider readership.
More than that, he was an ambassador for Scottish and British agricultural journalism. A past chairman of the British Guild, one of Joe’s finest achievements was in encouraging the International Guild to hold its annual congress in the North East – the first time in more than 40 years that the event had been held in Scotland.
Last autumn, many journalists from around the globe converged on Aberdeen to enjoy a programme of farming and food events pulled together under Joe’s watch – an event he sadly did not live to see.
By recognising how highly valued Joe’s life and work was, and sharing that with his family, we hope this award goes some way to recognising the deep respect that NFU Scotland and the farming community had for Joe.
Picture supplied by NFU Scotland.