Saturday, 23 October 2021

Welcome to the 127th Henley Show

Welcome to the 127th Henley Show

IN 1937 my father and mother set off from Dorset looking for a farm.

They eventually ran out of petrol at White Pond Farm and rented 180 acres at £1 per acre and for another £20 they could use the water supply from Stonor Park.

I came along in the hot summer of 1947 and always wanted to farm from the day I could walk, a decision I have never regretted.

I went to Cirencester Agricultural College and spent two happy years there having great fun, making good friends, playing sport and learning how to drink and a little bit about farming!

I returned home in 1967 and farmed in partnership with my father.

We built up the dairy herd up to 120, fattened the bull calves and grew 180 acres of cereals.

The farm size increased to 420 acres with another 100 acres of rough grazing, the size it is today. Sadly, my father died in 1988 and I took over the tenancy and moved back to White Pond with the family. My mother moved in to Granny’s End.

We started diversifying by using Granny’s End for bed and breakfast, which my wife Lindy ran.

We also hosted some filming for advertisements and some scenes from the Bond film The Living Daylights (1987).

The B & B was very successful and in 2002 Lindy decided to change it to self-catering.

The farm took another change in direction when we decided to rear bought-in calves.

We now have up to 400 cattle on the farm and sell 180 finished cattle per year to Waitrose as well as a few for freezer sales on the doorstep.

We grow and feed some of the barley and sell some for malting.

Recently we have been lucky with the wheat as it has made milling grade and goes to Wessex Mill in Wantage.

In 2004 Philip Walters contacted us to sell his turkeys. We now have a turkey day on December 23 each year, selling all sorts of Christmas fayre. This has become more popular each year.

I was very surprised when my old mate Andrew Ingram, chairman of the Henley & District Agricultural Association, asked me to be president of the Henley Show. I am sure he is trying to make me grow up!

After the initial shock, I thought it was a great honour to be asked so here I am.

My main hope for the year is that the weather is fine on event days.

I also think we should try to encourage the younger generation to join the association.

All this depends on some very willing volunteers, all ably assisted and organised by Jo Taylor, association and show manager. She is certainly trying to “kick” me into shape.

I am not very sure whether I should thank Andrew for this “hospital pass” but I do feel very honoured to be asked. It has caused endless laughter among friends.

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