The group has been crowned the 2014 winners of the David Black award which is presented annually for a “sustained and valuable contribution” to the industry.
Ladies in Pigs is only the second group to be recognised with the prize since the inaugural award in 1960.
Sue Woodall, who lives in North Cave, East Yorkshire, is chairman of the group and she attended the House of Lords on Tuesday to collect the gong from Farming Minister George Eustice.
“We’re really proud to have won as a group of women in what is still quite a male dominated industry,” said Sue. “It was a real honour to be nominated and we’re thrilled to have won. It will mean such a lot to our members.”
Sue went to the breakfast meeting at the Commons with the group’s treasurer Anne Sheddon, of York, former chairman Frances Slade, executive committee member Julia Blant and the aptly named sponsorship secretary Sally Ham.
The winner of the David Black award is chosen by an independent panel chaired by Mick Sloyan, director of the British Pig Executive (BPEX), the organisation representing pig levy payers in England.
John Bullock, BPEX’s industry communications manager, said: “Over the years, they have been formidable in their approach, inspirational in their presentations and invaluable for the morale of the industry. They have made a significant and lasting contribution to the British pig industry through dedication, commitment, enthusiasm and the professional demonstration of pride in the quality of the food they help to produce.”
Ladies in Pigs was founded in 1991 by Glenda Montgomery and Miranda Shufflebotham to promote British pork at a time when the industry was suffering.
Sue, whose husband Phil also works in the pig industry, has been a member for 23 years.
“I went along to a meeting at The Bell Hotel in Driffield in 1992 and have been a member ever since. We used to all be volunteers but now, thanks to our funding we can pay the ladies who work at events. This means people can take time off from work to come along and help us promote the best the industry has to offer.”
Ladies in Pigs is funded by the industry it supports. Every time a pig leaves a farm a levy is paid to BPEX which goes towards marketing British pork. Some of this money funds the Ladies in Pigs to promote British pork at shows and events, as well as visits to schools and community groups.
Sue said: “We put together eight recipes each year and then go out and about to shows and schools and cook them. The majority of our members are pig farmers themselves or are in an industry related job so they can talk to customers about the products, where to buy them and what they should be looking for with packaging and labelling.”
BPEX recently paid for a new mobile kitchen for the Ladies in Pigs team to use for demonstrations, and the group is extending its reach by attending festivals and food events. Next year they’re considering a slot at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival weekend.
“We want to tell people how wonderful British pork is but we also show them how easy it is to cook and let people taste the results,” said Sue. “We tell people they must look for the Red Tractor logo to ensure they are buying British. They’re often surprised how versatile, low in fat and inexpensive British pork can be.”
Ladies in Pigs has around 300 members and is always on the lookout for new recruits.
“All we ask is that you like cooking, are passionate about British agriculture and enjoy talking to people,” said Sue.
Ladies in Pigs launches a new collection of their favourite pork recipes in a cookbook which will be available to buy online at www.ladiesinpigs.co.uk from December.