Dr Dick Esslemont was announced yesterday (27 April) as the recipient of the RABDF Princess Royal Award in a presentation by Her Royal Highness at Buckingham Palace. The award is one of the highest accolades within the dairy industry and is awarded each year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sector throughout their lifetime.
Dr Dick Esslemont (centre) with wife Bridget (left) receiving his presentation from Her Royal Highness
Dr Esslemont developed the UK’s first computerised dairy herd health scheme, which has been the forerunner of technology in use on all progressive farms today. ‘DAISY’ (The Dairy Information System) was created to run on a variety of mini-computers, and allowed farmers to have a same-day turnaround on their data.
RABDF chairman Mike King said it was fitting that Dr Esselmont was recognised by the whole industry as a pioneer and communicator.
Mr King said: “The dairy sector has benefited not only from the way DAISY exposed strengths and weaknesses in management systems, but also from Dr Esselmont’s ability to communicate solutions to a generation of farmers who were then inspired and able to embrace the digital revolution.”
Dr Esslemont said it was a honour to receive such a prestigious award, and that when his team first started out, they had no idea of the role DAISY would play in pioneering future farm software and informing farmers and veterinarians alike.
He said: “When DAISY was launched, I knew we’d have to sell 80 systems to break even. But when we ended up selling 3-4,000 and started to see competition develop between herds and practices all trying to be the best in fertility and health the league tables, I realised we’d developed a much-needed product.
“It was fantastic to see some of the data collated from DAISY pooled for research at Reading University, with a significant amount of influential papers being published as a result.”
The Princess Royal Award is run by RABDF – the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers – and was first introduced in 1991. It is open to people working in any sector of dairying and in any capacity. Each year the winner is selected by RABDF Council based upon who they believe has provided an outstanding contribution to the sector. Further information available from 02476 639317