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Top honours for growers

FRUIT marketing company First Fresh held its inaugural grower awards evening on Thursday night at the Bushmere Arms to honour and acknowledge their growers’ achievements over the 2015-16 season.

The “Freshies”, as the awards are known, drew a full house of over 160 people with MC for the night former TV3 sportscaster Hamish McKay.

First Fresh managing director Ian Albers said since the launch of their LRA (Loyalty Recognition Agreement programme) 12 months ago it was fitting to celebrate what the growers in the LRA programme had achieved.

Best in category Freshies were awarded across 13 different fruit varieties the company markets.

Clive and Amanda Lewis were crowned winners of the supreme award.

“They were deserving winners having won Freshies for best limes, grapefruit and tangelos as well as being nominated as a finalist for Satsuma mandarins.”

The couple have supplied First Fresh since the company’s inception in the late 1980s.

“They are a consistent supplier of high quality fruit,” Mr Albers said.

“We commissioned a special trophy for the supreme award that’s been cast in solid brass and it will be awarded annually to the overall winner.”

The “Freshies” were set to become an annual event, he said.

Mr Lewis acknowledged his orchard staff and said that it was their hard work and effort that allowed him to produce the fruit that he does.

He also paid tribute to First Fresh. “Their marketing efforts especially around export have been very successful.”

Five other prizes were handed out including Best Service Provider and Young Grower awards that were decided by the growers themselves through an online voting system.

Bruce Mackintosh from I B Mackintosh Contracting took out the best service provider award and Enrique Perez was the winner of the Young Grower award.

The other three awards were an Innovation award won by Andrew Ellmers, the Unsung Hero (behind the scenes) award won by Valerie Ladd and the Outstanding Contribution award won by John Macpherson.

Mr Macpherson also took home “Freshies” for best in category persimmons and satsumas.

The evening was sponsored by some of the First Fresh key service providers — NZ Fruits Ltd, Mainfreight, Kuehne and Nagel, Pricom, Radfords and Chep.

“It was an evening of grower pride and recognition and the First Fresh team were very proud of their growers’ commitment.” Mr Albers said.

All winners received framed certificates, Farmlands vouchers and champagne.


SUPREME WINNER: Clive Lewis, who along with wife Amanda, was awarded top honours at the inaugural Freshies, is pictured with First Fresh managing director Ian Albers, and the winners’ spoils. Pictures supplied
FULL HOUSE: The Bushmere Arms hosted the award ceremony.