POULTRY Health Services (PHS) in Sheriff Hutton has won the Employer of the Year Award at the first ever National Women in Agriculture Awards.

Vet director Dr Sara Perez received the award for PHS.

Dr Perez, who became a director at PHS in 2018, leads a team of 25 poultry vets at PHS of whom more than half are female vets from diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

PHS is one of the UK’s largest specialist commercial poultry and game bird veterinary practices. Its expertise includes diagnostic testing, helping clients to maximise the health, welfare and productivity of their livestock while improving food quality and safety and contributing to business profitability.

Headquartered in Sheriff Hutton, PHS has centres in Edinburgh, Preston, Tarpoley, Sutton Bonington, Shrewsbury, Leominster, Hereford and Devon as well as two laboratories in Scotland and Yorkshire.

The practice supports female vets returning to work following maternity leave by offering regular ‘keeping in touch days’, part-time and flexible working, as well as refresher clinical sessions. Single mums who might be struggling can also access support from its hardship fund.

New vets are supported by a six-month internship programme while Dr Perez holds regular development sessions and events where she reviews clinical performance and cases. Staff also visit career fairs to encourage the next generation of poultry vets.

PHS have encouraged their female vets to become advisors and to get involved in national consultation groups with organisations such as the Food Standards Agency and the British Poultry Council. PHS also offers opportunities to improve skills through its Learning Platforms, with courses including Excel, health and safety, leadership, and mental wellbeing.

Dr Perez said: “I am delighted that our work and achievements to support women at Poultry Health Services have been recognised in these awards. Measures such as job sharing among the female members of our team have proven very successful as female employees can now retain their job, enjoy a good work-life balance and progress successful and fulfilling careers.”

In recognition of her leadership and development skills, Dr Perez received the Manager of the Year award in 2021 from VetPartners – the larger veterinary group of which PHS is a member.

It is not the first time PHS has been recognised in national awards. Vet Helena Brewer was a finalist in 2020 for the National Young Farm Vet of the Year Award in the National Egg & Poultry Awards which her colleague Emma King won in 2023. Emma also won the Outstanding Achievement Award in the 2024 Northern Farmer Awards.

The Women in Agriculture Awards were organised by Mark Allen Group, publisher of Farmers Weekly. Other awards were Sustainability Champion, Supply Chain Woman, Rising Star, Agricultural Influencer, Agricultural Advisor, Innovator, Training and Education Woman, Trade Organisation Woman, Business of the Year, Farming Woman and Lifetime Achievement Award.