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Retired farmer Peter, 87, looks back on village life

Retired farmer, Peter Starling, 87, likes nothing better than taking a trip down memory lane with friends, family and fellow villagers.

Having been born and brought up at West Dereham, he is the 'go to' person for information about the history of village and always a great teller of stories in the village pub about times gone by.

That all had to stop at the started of the pandemic but Peter has found another way of re-living the past by putting his memories in print.

peter starling (46764923)
peter starling (46764923)

With help from former headmaster and fellow villager, Chris Youngs, Peter has spent time writing a book which is due to be out in the next few days.

These memories have been recounted in a series of conversations which have taken place from 2019 to the present day. They recall much of the last century in West Dereham as seen through the eyes of Peter who still lives in the same farmhouse in which he was born.

The stories are told with honesty and humour and the book is illustrated with pictures and maps referring also to the deeper history of West Dereham’s medieval past.

Peter and Dorothy Jean in their courting days in the 1950s
Peter and Dorothy Jean in their courting days in the 1950s

Chris explained that the idea originated from a coffee morning attended by Peter and a number of older residents who were sitting round a table talking about times gone by.

“I suggested these memories and stories should be recorded before they were lost for good. I went to his house once a week and we sat on either side of his fireplace and he talked - about his father, his grandparents, his schooldays and village life.”

Peter farmed at Peartree Farm, where he still lives, and was married to Dorothy Jean. They had two daughters, who both live at Downham.

Contractors now farm his land and Peter potters about the place looking after his chickens and ducks.

“He is a lovely guy with a lovely sense of humour,” said Chris. “His wife died two years ago and I think doing this book helped him through that and through lockdown.”

The cost is likely to be around £10 for this 150-page volume and copies can be reserved from chrisyoungoutdoors@gmail.co or phone 01366-500470.

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