Gareth Williams, Rhug Estate’s Poultry Manager, is celebrating a significant work anniversary this month having worked on the farm for 40 years. To commemorate the occasion Gareth has been awarded a Long Service Medal at the Royal Welsh Show yesterday.
Gareth, who is from Llangollen, started in 1979, aged 17. He came to work for the former Lord Newborough, with the old shepherd, Wil Williams, for three weeks during his Easter holidays from Llysfasi College. After his three weeks were over he was offered a permanent position helping manage the farm’s 3,000 sheep.
Gareth said, “I didn’t come from a farming background but knew I wanted to work with sheep so I felt very privileged and lucky to have had such an experienced shepherd teach me when I first started. When Mr Williams retired four years later I took on the role of head shepherd for the upland flock of sheep.”
In 1998 the current Lord Newborough took over the Estate from his late father and decided to farm the land organically. Gareth helped the transition, which was a two-year conversion period, so the Estate then produced organic lamb.
In 2002 Lord Newborough opened two vans on the side of the A5 – one selling the meat produced on the farm and the other selling burgers made from the meat produced on the farm.
Today the Farm Shop is one of the biggest in Wales and offers a Bistro; Takeaway service and Drive Thru for customers with all the meat supplied to these businesses from Rhug’s own farm. The total number of staff on the Estate today is 130 with nine of them working on the farm.
Lord Newborough introduced turkeys and geese, produced for the Christmas market, in the early 2000s, then introduced chickens to the farm. As one of the longest serving members of staff on the farm, Gareth was asked to manage the poultry. Even though he had no prior knowledge of poultry farming Gareth took on the challenge and now manages the farm’s chickens, geese and turkeys.
HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, was at the Royal Welsh Show yesterday and congratulated Gareth on receiving his Award. Prince Charles is very familiar with Rhug Estate and asked Gareth how Lord Newborough’s herd of bison are.
Lord Newborough was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales last year for Rhug Organic Farm which incorporates the farm, the wholesale meat business, the cutting plant, the butcher’s counter at Rhug Farm shop and Rhug’s stall at London’s Borough Market.
Gareth said, “It was a huge honour to meet HRH Prince Charles again today at the Royal Welsh Show and to receive the long service award. Farming can be quite an isolated career but I have certainly benefited from being part of the team at Rhug. We all work well together and I have made some lovely friends over the years.”
Lord Newborough said, “Gareth and I have worked together for so many years now. Congratulations Gareth on reaching this milestone, but I hope there will be many more years of us working together still in the future. I must thank Gareth for his support and total dedication to Rhug.”
Gareth met his wife, Sue, at Rhug Estate when she came on work experience in 1987. She now works for Natural Resources Wales and they have two daughters Joanna and Nicky. Gareth is very grateful to Sue for all her support over the years.
Credit to Ruth Rees Photography for the photo of Gareth receiving his award at the Royal Welsh Show from the Show President and his wife.