Two long standing farm workers who have each completed 60 years on a West Norfolk farm were given celebrity treatment at the Royal Norfolk Show on Thursday.
Trevor Allen and Michael Collison, both from Terrington St Clement, headed a line up of farming stalwarts from all over the county who received awards for their contribution to the industry.
The presentations were made by the show president, the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, and watched by employers and proud families and friends, who were all thankful for a dry day after Wednesday’s torrential rain.
Although they have retired as full-time employees for W H Kerkham (Rhoon) Ltd, the pair still help out on the farms where they spent their working lives since leaving school at the age of fifteen.
They spent their latter years as tractor drivers but both men started very much at the bottom of the pecking order in days when horses still played a vital role on the land and mechanical machinery was something of a novelty.
Their careers have seen farming methods change beyond recognition and workforces plummet from at least 20 men to less than a handful.
Trevor followed in his father’s footsteps and started his career at Ongar Hill Farm, Terrington, before it became part of the Kerkham operation. His roles included cleaning the yards, and leading the horses to helping his boss make butter for Lynn market.
Also following his family tradition, Michael saw horses replaced by tractors. “But they were nothing like the modern machines” he said.
“The early ones had iron wheels, no cabs, no air-conditioning and the only heating was a big overcoat.”
Both men worked their way up to become tractor drivers and both worked beyond retirement age.
Even now their skills are in demand for helping out at harvest time and tasks such as grass cutting and ditch clearing.
Their thoughts on modern technology in farming? The camaraderie is missing,” said Trevor. “It is not such hard work but the skill factor has gone,” said Michael.
Over in the livestock rings, West Norfolk competitors and exhibitors had another successful show with some of the top trophies and awards coming back to this side of the county.
Among winners in the sheep classes were Collison Associates, from Tilney All Saints, who swept the board in the Shetland category. The tally included best in breed, female champion and the Norfolk special for Lyn Collison’s home-bred four-year-old Tilney Hebe and the male championship for two-year-old Tilney Louis. Judge Philip Cowan was well impressed with Hebe, describing her as “very correct and true to type”.
In the beef cattle sections, Delamore Farms, of Terrington St Clement, had champion bull and best in breed in the British White category.
Beef shorthorns exhibited by N J and A M Barrett’s Glenariff herd, from South Wootton, collected the reserve breed championship, best cow/heifer and the best group of three.
Robbie Moore’s Fenland herd, from Grimston, had another heap of rosettes in the Aberdeen Angus classes with the champion cow, champion bull and both the best in breed title and reserve championship.
In horse classes, West Norfolk champions included Lindsey Walton in the ridden Haflinger section with her 11-year-old mare Nobles, Caroline Ward’s Popenhoe Picture Perfect in the skewbald and piebald in-hand section, and Laura Oughton-Auker with Hot Fuss in the veteran in-hand classes.
West Norfolk was also responsible for the fun factor in the countryside arena. The Ham National was staged by Church Farm, Stow Bardolph, and their team of racing pigs. The speedy porkers scuttled round the circuit at flat out speed in pursuit of a tasty feed, cheered on by the crowds.
The runners included such stars as Brad Pig and Justin Bieboar but it was Peppa Pig who was the outstanding porker showing the rest a clean pair of trotters every time.
At the end of the two days, organisers summed it up as another successful show which was challenging because of the weather but still supported by huge crowds.