‘NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink Inspirational Young Person Award winner announced

NFU mutual scotland food and drink award

NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink Inspirational Young Person Award

Scotland’s newest food and drink industry award has announced its winner.  Designed to recognise the incredible talent and dedication being shown by Scotland’s young people within the food and drink sector, the ‘NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink Inspirational Young Person Award’ has, over recent weeks, selected the four most worthy entrants who are now being recognised for their dedication and contribution to the food and drink industry.

Helen Stewart from Badvo Distillery in Pitlochry has been chosen as the overall winner.

At the age of just 18, Helen recognised that her family farm was in need of additional income in order to survive. With no money to invest, Helen obtained grants and worked seven days a week in order to develop a micro-gin distillery.

Doing everything herself, from attended events to social media and distilling, Helen overcame a host of challenges and obstacles in order to build the distillery and was nicknamed the most successful ‘non-distiller’ as she was featured in magazines, books, and a documentary before she even launched!

Helen forages all of the botanicals she requires for the gin from the farm and now Badvo is growing its reputation among fans of Scottish gin.

NFU mutual scotland food and drink award

Helen was presented with her certificate and £500 prize money at the Badvo Distillery by Kathryn Mutch, Marketing and Communications Manager at Scotland Food & Drink, Brian Lochhead, Sales Manager at NFU Mutual and Margaret Hebbourn, NFU Mutual Senior Agent for Perth.

Speaking of her win, Helen said:

“This is the perfect end to our first month of production”.

Martin Malone, Regional Manager Northern Ireland and Scotland with NFU Mutual, said:

“With this being the inaugural year of the award, I have been very impressed with the level of entries and am encouraged by the talent taking our food and drink sector forward. There are so many dedicated, hard-working and inspiring young people currently working in the food and drink industry and NFU Mutual is delighted to work closely with so many fantastic food and drink businesses across the sector.

“I congratulate Helen on both her win and her business achievements. She stood out by taking a vision for the existing business that needed to diversify into other revenue streams in an area where she had no knowledge, existing contacts and effectively build a brand, a product and premises to house the business. This included marketing heavily, product design, and distribution all from scratch and was a tremendous example of innovation, energy and tenacity”.

James Withers, Chief Executive at Scotland Food & Drink, said:

“Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight takes place this year as part of the Year of Young People celebrations. It is therefore particularly pertinent that we have announced the winner of this award during the Fortnight. I am always keen to highlight not only the enormous contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food and drink businesses but also the importance of the sector to the wider economy. For that reason, I believe that Helen makes an incredibly worthy winner and I believe that it was her dedication and determination which won over the judges.”


Second prize winner Lauren Leisk developed freshly prepared meal options for people who suffer from IBS and who have other dietary requirements. She set up Fodilicious in Livingston in September 2017 and is currently selling from her website and to food service clients.

Meanwhile, third-placed Ellie Sinclair of The Veg Co. began growing tomatoes and chillies and utilising these into tasty jams, spice mixes and sauces. Ellie has expansion plans, including producing her ingredients on her farm solely through the use of renewable energy.

Owen Foster caught the eye of the judges who felt that they had to introduce a special recognition prize to reward his ingenuity. Using local produce and his Grandma’s recipes, Owen makes and sells jams, raising money for charity with every sale.





I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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