INDEPENDENT sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings has been honoured for her "outstanding contribution" to the sheep industry.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has awarded her the George Hedley Memorial Award for her near 40 years of work as a leading figure in the UK sheep sector.

Bryan Griffiths, NSA chairman, said: "I am thrilled Lesley has been chosen as the recipient of the award in recognition of the dedication she has already given to the sheep industry and the role she will no doubt continue to play in the future.

"Anyone who has ever worked with Lesley cannot have failed to be impressed by her knowledge and enthusiasm for sheep farming, and we enjoy a particularly close working relationship with her at NSA. I believe this award to be very well deserved."

Ms Stubbings graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in animal production in 1979. She joined ADAS and quickly worked her way up to become Principal Sheep Consultant. She became an independent sheep consultant, based in Teesdale, in 1997 developing a wide client base advising farmers, Defra the NSA and other organisations.

She is a Life Member of the Sheep Veterinary Society and the leading figure in the SCOPS industry group which is a world leader in integrated parasite control in sheep.

On receiving the award she said: "To be recognised by my peers in the sheep industry in this way is a great honour. I have been very fortunate to have worked in such a vibrant sector over my career. In accepting this award I want to acknowledge the efforts of many people who have supported and encouraged me over the years and I hope to be able to continue to support the next generation of sheep advisers as we move into a new phase of our industry."

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: "The value of the service Lesley has given to the UK sheep industry is really immeasurable, particularly when considering her role in the formation and development of the SCOPS group.

"Thanks to Lesley I believe UK sheep farmers are currently far more aware of the challenges they face due to anthelmintic resistance and are taking steps to counteract this and improve the health and welfare status of their livestock. This alone is an achievement worth recognising, not to mention the vast amount of work throughout the sector that Lesley has been responsible for."