AS Head of Agricult-ure at AbbeyAutoline and a part-time farm-
er, Richard Hender-son’s life revolves around farming – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
In his professional life, Richard heads a specialist agricultural team of insurance brokers at AbbeyAutoline based at offices across Northern Ireland.
But away from the world of insurance, Richard works part-time on his farm with support from his three sons, Jack, Charlie and Isaac.
He will need all that support next week when it’s all hands-on-deck for lambing season. Richard will be on annual leave and the boys will all be there to assist.
“I wouldn’t change it,” said Richard. “Some people like to play golf or watch football at the weekend to relax and unwind, but for me there is nothing better than getting out onto the farm.
“I keep a flock of sheep and a pedigree herd of beef shorthorn cattle so there is work to be done every day, although the boys are a great help to me.
“As a family we get to spend a lot of time together on the farm, which is wonderful. My wife Sonya and I certainly see the benefits of bringing up our family on the farm as it has taught the boys so much about life and, of course, there is nothing better than spending time in the fresh country air.”
Having that expertise in farming has been a cornerstone of Richard’s professional life, with his whole career spent in positions that have kept him closely aligned to Northern Ireland’s farming community.
He began working in the animal feed industry as a sales rep before moving into the world of insurance, later joining Autoline in 2011 where he steadily set about growing the agricultural account be-fore taking up the position as Head of Agriculture in 2016.
Agriculture continued to
grow at Autoline and in 2019 the company created a specialised Agri team. Last year Autoline merged with Abbey Insurance to create AbbeyAutoline, Northern Ire-
land’s largest insurance brok-ers.
Richard said: “It’s been really pleasing to see the agricultural side of the business grow and we’re proud to be Northern Ire-land’s largest agri broker.
“Our success lies in our
passion for building relation-ships with clients and insurers which gives us the buying power to secure the most competitive deals for our customers. As a broker, we can provide customers with choice and we take the hassle out of searching by checking our panel of leading insurers.
“Most of the Farm Insurance team at AbbeyAutoline come directly or indirectly from a farming background and all are very knowledgeable about agriculture.”
Richard is passionate about helping members of the farming community at times when they often need it the most.
“We develop close relation-ships with our clients and before Covid-19 struck I enjoyed getting out to visit farms and speaking with farmers. It’s important that they know the face behind the organisation in order to build trust and a strong connection.
“No matter what size your farm is, from a few acres of hobby farming to large scale businesses, our local team can tailor a policy to suit your individual farming needs. As a broker, we understand that it’s not a case of one size fits all!
“Even now when farming is doing reasonably well, there are still many factors to consider when renewing your insurance. For example, as livestock become more valuable and machinery more
expensive, the loss of an animal or machinery damage has a bigger financial impact on the farm business.
“The constant demands of farming can sometimes overshadow the importance of reviewing your insurance, however I would encourage farmers to examine their policies to ensure they have the right cover in place. That’s where the team at AbbeyAutoline can help.”
No matter the challenges, Richard predicts a bright future for farming.
“Not too many walk away from the industry and now, after years in the insurance industry, I am dealing with the next generation who are taking a more central role in the running of their farms. It’s also great to see an increase in the numbers of women actively involved in agriculture.
“I’ve missed meeting our farmers during the past year, but I am hopeful things will change soon. As a team, we are looking forward to a return to the agricultural shows when our farming community can come to-gether and celebrate this wonderful industry once again.”