A Muirkirk couple have secured the top prize at a recent national farming awards ceremony.

Cora and David Cooper were announced as winners of Farmers Weekly Awards 2023 Sheep Farmer of the year.

The Coopers submitted an application to the awards and were then visited by four judges for three hours back in July.

They didn't know they had secured the top spot until they attended the ceremony in London earlier this month.

Cumnock Chronicle: Receiving the award.Receiving the award. (Image: Farmers Weekly Awards)

Cora says the award shows the hard work that's been put in over the years, and what can be achieved.

"The fact that it's UK-wide and we've beaten some really tough competition makes it even more special.

"I think it just goes to show what can be done with an area that was a former open cast and has now been transformed into the farm we have now.

"We're farming in such a way that it's conservative, regenerative farming, so it's showing that food production doesn’t have to be to the detriment of the environment.  The peatland restoration we have done on our land saves over 7500 tonnes of carbon from releasing into the atmosphere and this figure will grow as the years go on.

"This helps to show that it's not all negative when it comes to farming and we can hopefully change people's perception."

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David said: “This is a great achievement for us and for the community of Muirkirk who played a very important part in welcoming us to this area, which we are so grateful for.”

David had initially moved to Muirkirk from Devon when he was just 17, and has been building the farming business for the past 19 years.

Cora, originally from Elderslie, met David and started their working partnership around eight years ago.

Cumnock Chronicle: The Coopers.The Coopers. (Image: Joe Somerville at Somerville Captures)

Now with three young children, the couple have an award-winning farm.

Cora added: "It's really nice for us because we've got three young children and when they announced the winner, they put a picture up of us with the children.

"It was lovely to see that photo up, the children are such a huge part of our business, because farming is 24/7 and the kids are really involved in that and they enjoy it.

"It embodies what we're about because we put everything into this farm".