The annual dinner and prizegiving of Fermanagh Grassland Club took place last week in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.

The guest speaker was John Henning, Deputy President of the RUAS, who is also a trustee at Lantra and the Council for Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies.

Awards were made to farmers who had featured in the top three of the club’s Grazing competition and Silage competition.


The Grazing competition, sponsored by Vaughan Trust, was judged by Robert Graham and William Egerton, former winners.

Mr. Graham, expressing views of the judges, said they realised last summer was a difficult season for farmers, but they were pleased to walk the farms, and they saw many good innovations.

He said they were impressed by how farmers faced the challenges.

The results were as follows.

Beef and Sheep Section: 1, Stephen Maguire, Maguiresbridge; 2, Robert McCrea, Fivemiletown; 3, Roy Mayers, Ballyreagh.

Dairy Section: 1, Philip Clarke, Augher; 2, Gordon Elliott, Derrygonnelly; 3, Michael McCaughey, Trillick.


In the Silage competition, sponsored by Barenbrug, the judges were David Linton, Commercial Manager, Barenbrug, and William Johnston, club Secretary.

In the absence of David Linton, William Johnston referred to some of the features which led to the winners of this year’s competition; with 26-28 per cent DM from silage cut in late May, silos well sealed and farmers using oxygen membrane covers.

The results were as follows.

Big Bale Section: 1 (Hermon Cup), William Egerton, Rosslea; 2, Lee Beacom; 3, Roy Mayers.

Pit/Clamp section: 1 (Tisdall Cup), Bertie Elliott; 2, Gary Giles; 3, Abraham Veitch.

It was announced that first prizewinners were eligible up to £500 funding for a study tour or training course.

The Houston Trophy – awarded to a member of the club who has made a significant contribution to agriculture in Fermanagh – was presented to Cecil Morton, from Teemore, who has been associated for many years with the Fermanagh Creameries factory at Lisnaskea, owned by the St. Ivel brand.

After its closure, he moved to Glanbia, where he had a positive relationship with dairy farmer suppliers.

He left the company in 2021 and serves on the Boards of Devenish College and Ulster Farmers’ Union, and with his son, James, is involved in establishing a dairy enterprise on the home farm.

Receiving the award from club Chairman, Robin Clements, Mr. Morton thanked the club for the award and said he was only doing his job.

Guest speaker, John Henning, who shortly takes over the role of President of the RUAS, has links to Fermanagh, having spent several years working in the county in the early part of his banking career with Northern Bank, now Danske Bank.

He said it was a huge honour to be invited to speak during the club’s 60th anniversary year and praised those farmers who were at the establishment of the club in 1963 to promote grassland farming.

Mr. Henning recalled attending a club event in 1987 and also in his official role as part of Northern Bank’s agricultural team.

He said it was evident that club members had endeavoured to meet the challenges facing them, embracing all the skills in grassland management.

He recalled how farming had changed significantly in Fermanagh from the 1960s to what it was today.

Mr. Henning said his role in agricultural relations with Danske Bank gave him the opportunity to have direct contact with farm businesses and to engage with successive generations.

He said there is a deep relationship between industry and banking.

He retired from the bank as their spokesperson on agriculture – a role he enjoyed most of all.

Mr. Henning is also noted as a pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeder, managing 12 Angus cows and growing some cereals, exhibiting cattle at Balmoral Show.

He said he preferred halter training his cattle rather than going for walks with a dog.

Mr. Henning is a former President of the Ulster Grassland Society, and continues to be its PRO. He congratulated John Egerton as its current President – the third from Fermanagh, following on from Harold Hamilton and John Darling.

Over the years, both UGS and Fermanagh Grassland Club organised joint meetings when hosting the visits of the British Grassland Society.

In 1996, Mr. Henning undertook a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, looking at the role of agricultural shows in the US and Canada.

That led to his involvement in the RUAS, serving on committees and acting as stewards.

Mr. Henning also spoke of current issues affecting farming, which included famers looking after their mental health, and health and safety.

He also suggested farmers should continue to improve their image with consumers.

Among those attending was Rodney Elliott, who farms 6,500 cows in South Dakota, returning to Fermanagh to visit relatives.

Mr. Elliott’s brother-in-law, William Graham and family were finalists in the recent Gold Cup competition for dairy farmers in the UK.

The club Chairman, Robin Clements, congratulated the Graham family on their achievement.