Tag Archive: awards

Celebrating Diversity

With the rural sector facing both challenges and opportunities in the coming years we look at one individual who has taken a very different approach to diversification.


Over the past few years, George F. White have been delighted to support a number of awards across the region. We have been proud to learn about, and meet, many outstanding individuals and businesses in the rural sector.

From established traditional farming businesses through to diversification projects, and even individuals beginning their journey, the experience of being involved in regional awards, meeting the faces behind the stories, is a fascinating insight into the breadth and depth of skills and entrepreneurial spirit on our doorstep.

In early 2018 we were delighted to be part of the judging team for the Northern Farmer Awards, through our sponsorship of the Outstanding Achievement Award. Following many hours of deliberation amongst the knowledgeable and experienced panel, the winners were decided upon.

Whilst all those shortlisted, and of course the eventual winners, each are worthy of individual praise, there was one entry that stood out from the rest… that was Denys Fell who runs a farm near Hull in East Yorkshire.

Denys farms approximately 270 acres, mixing both organic arable and livestock in addition to fruit and nut trees, potatoes and cut flowers. However, it is not his endeavours in growing wheat or managing the flock of 200 sheep that stood out, but rather his diversification project, a community care centre based on Densholme Community Care Farm which really captivated the judges.

Denys saw the impact of the Foot and Mouth crisis in 2001 and was determined to help farmers struggling with loneliness, isolation and mental health issues, but he wasn’t really sure how.

Almost a decade ago, he invited three young men with profound mental health issues, living in a local care home, to visit the farm to help plant potatoes. Denys immediately saw the benefits of how the farm could provide assistance to those with disabilities, mental health issues, learning difficulties or suffering from addictions. The seed was planted.

Denys set up Densholme Community Care Farm, separate to his farming business, as a social enterprise which now employs ten people and looks after over 70 students per day. All the students have disabilities, mental health issues or learning difficulties and attend for up to four days per week on an entirely voluntary basis.

Denys is incredibly proud of the success of the project; how it has allowed the students to develop friendships, learn new skills and visibly grow in confidence.

It was telling that, for the Outstanding Achievement Award, the judging panel were unanimous in Denys being the winner. It was certainly no surprise on the night when he went on to pick up the Northern Farmer of the Year Award.

Diversification is a topic of significant debate at the moment with Brexit likely to bring about both new challenges and opportunities for those in all business sectors, but particularly rural enterprises. Understandably with much focus being on the efficiency and profitability of such businesses, it is all the more reason that the project undertaken by Denys Fell stood out above many impressive stories from all of the nominations.

To learn more about Denys Fell and the Densholme Community Care Farm, click here.

Forward Ladies National Shortlist: Sally Hart

Operations Director, Sally Hart, has been named on the regional shortlist at this year’s Forward Ladies National Awards, in the Corporate Leader category. Forward Ladies is one of the country’s leading organisations for the promotion of women in business and the National Awards are one of the most respected accolades for business women in the UK.

Sally Hart Forward Ladies

Commenting on the news, Sally said: “It’s an absolute honour to make the shortlist of such a prestigious event and to share the finalist list with some very talented and hard-working women, championing North East female entrepreneurship. Reaching the final is also great recognition for promoting younger female board members across business as, when I am not helping to run George F. White, I work with many professional women across a number of industries providing them with support and mentorship. I firmly believe we need to promote and celebrate women in business as much as we can.”

Sally’s heat takes place on Friday 14th September, which brings together finalists across the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. Such values promoted by the awards ceremony are similar to the ethos of George F. White and its focus on the importance of a people-driven organisation where women have a number of senior, leading roles within the business.

Robyn Peat, Managing Partner at George F. White, added: “I am delighted for Sally and her shortlist nomination in what is a highly competitive award. She’s a huge asset to the business and has transformed key operational activity since she’s come on board which has benefited not only the business but the team too. For example, Sally has been instrumental in implementing a new strategic direction which has focused on creating a sustainable and adaptable business that is centred around its people, using the resource and talent we have within the company to the best of its ability. Good luck, Sally!”

Forward Ladies


For more information about the event and shortlist please click here.

Employer of the Year!

We are delighted to announce that we have been named Employer of the Year at the Northumberland Business Awards. The Northumberland Business Awards recognise the strength and depth of the county’s very diverse business community.

Employer of the Year

People are at the centre of everything we do

Over the past 40 years we have continued to expand and evolve as a result of our hard working people. It is a key priority for us to continue to recruit specialists into our expanding team, from senior management to graduates and apprentices. People are at the centre of everything we do, because of this we are focused on growth, however, it is especially relevant to note that without our people we wouldn’t be able to deliver the wide range of specialist services and solutions we do. We now employ a team of 120 (and growing), including:

  • Chartered surveyors;
  • Chartered planners;
  • Chartered engineers;
  • Chartered architects;
  • Business support staff.

“It’s fantastic to be recognised as Employer of the Year and for the work we do at George F. White. We provide genuine opportunity and develop our staff which is vital within a workplace as it means you always have access to opportunities because of the ethos of the business. We want people to reach their full professional and personal potential.” Sally Hart, Operations Director

Making strategic changes

We instructed a Strategic Review last year with the aim of helping the business to improve performance. A new structure is now in place which supports internal growth and allows us to identify opportunities for staff and services alongside a clear vision to ensure all staff are working for a common purpose.

“A key part of the George F. White culture is the personal and professional development of our people across the business. Being Employer of the Year is a huge achievement considering our main objective is to provide opportunities to all our employees enabling them to constantly strive to develop which, in turn, delivers for our clients.” Robyn Peat, Managing Partner

Providing a career path

Through setting up a new structure, we provide a clear career path for all employees and as a result, in our Northumberland office alone, 11 promotions were announced which recognise the success and dedication of individuals.

“The restructure is brilliant as now we have a very clear route to progression through the firm. It provides leadership and management opportunities for me moving forward, it is great to be recognised and supported in your development. Becoming Employer of the Year is very encouraging as a member of such a strong team as it cements the fact that we are one big family!” Tim Michie, Senior Rural Surveyor

Staff incentives

In addition to our existing incentives, we are introducing new incentives in order to give back to the team, including:

  • Introducing a clear bonus structure linked to business, team and individual performance;
  • Improved holiday entitlement, maternity package, paternity leave;
  • Introducing Carer leave;
  • Long service will be rewarded with additional holidays.

We embrace flexible working and the need for staff to have a good work-life balance. 1 in 4 staff have flexible working hours; in addition to this, we understands how important it is for colleagues to take time out of the normal work environment to get to know each other better. So far, activities include:

  • Treasure Hunt
  • Afternoon tea
  • Live Exit game

Furthermore, we get together twice a year to hear all about what the business is getting up to and to celebrate our success together which consequently brings us closer together as a team.

We have some fantastic career opportunities due to the growth of our business. To find our more information please click here.