Charity day ploughs up blood biker backing

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Vintage tractors that helped feed the nation during and after the Second World War were on display during a charity ploughing match near Fakenham on Sunday.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the SERV blood bikes charity, which provides out of hours transportation of blood and blood products within the NHS.

A total of 37 competitors, from Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridge, entered this year’s match on Keith Farm Partnership land made trickier by heavy rain.

Many were traditional tractors such as Massey Fergusons, Fordsons or power units made by David Brown or British Leyland.

But there were also more smaller machines such a Japanese Kubota and a French Renault originally used in French vineyards.

One machine, an International Cub entered by Fakenham’s Dick Gold, who won the horticultural ride-on section, was originally also used primarily in vineyards as well as by French smallholders. It had a very international pedigree. “It was made in America and shipped to France in 1957,” he said. He then brought it into this country.

The fascination in agricultural bygones passing from father to son was also evident when Wayne Brett-Reynolds won the vintage trailed section.

His father, Brett, was co-founder of the now defunct Fakenham Farm Machinery Club which, 41 years ago, started the annual ploughing match which is run by the Norfolk Ploughing Society today.

Its chairman, Andrew Websdale, said: “We do it to promote the art and skill of ploughing. Modern methods don’t needs those old skills. The interest in vintage tractors in increasing.”

At the end of the Second World war tractors typically ploughed two or three furrows at a time. Now as many as twelve can be cultivated at one pass by tractors guided by satellite navigation.

For some of the contestants it is a change from their day-to-day work driving tractors weighing up to five hundred tonnes.

For others, either retired or with jobs that have nothing to do with farming, it is simply the pleasure of keeping old farming ways alive. But it is a hobby where maintaining old tractors is becoming more difficult with spare parts getting harder to find.

Prize winners were: Vintage mounted: Peter Carman; Vintage trailed: Wayne Brett-Reynolds; Unmodified: Simon Bloomfield; Classic: Derek Mayes; Novice: Godfrey Duggan; Horticultural ride-on: Dick Gold; Horticultural walk behind: Ralph Burleigh; Ferguson class: Stewart White.