Adam Henson: saluting those unsung farming heroes who touch the lives of so many
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 July 2015
Britain’s farmers are an amazing lot. They come in all shapes and sizes, from every age group and all types of backgrounds. But what connects them all is the incredible lengths they will go to in the name of farming and to support their local communities.
I’ve always known there were some remarkable people out there, but it really hit home when we launched our search for the Countryfile Farming Hero Award. We wanted to find an exceptional and inspirational man or woman; the sort of person you can’t help but look up to and who would do anything for their family, friends or colleagues.
Well it’s fair to say that the response from the viewers was really heart-warming. We were sent the names of more than 800 people who had touched the lives of others. It was my job to get the mountain of nominations down to a shortlist of just three with the help of my fellow judges; Charlotte Smith from Countryfile and Radio 4’s Farming Today programme and the livestock and arable farmer Mike Gooding.
We were all impressed by the story of Robert Bertram, a 68-year-old shepherd who lives and works in the Northumberland National Park. In January he saved the life of his neighbour, Mark, who had been involved in an accident on his quad bike when it overturned on a snow covered mountainside.
Worried that he hadn’t returned, Robert set off on a search through blizzard conditions until he found Mark, badly injured but still breathing.
One of the most moving stories we heard was about 17-year-old Cameron Hendry from Perthshire. On Christmas Day last year his dad, David, collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart condition. Without a second thought for himself, Cameron stepped in to take over the running of the family farm and support his mum and his younger brother.
But after a lot of soul searching we finally decided on a winner; a truly remarkable lady called Joan Bomford. At the age of 82 she’s still a bundle of energy and can be found hard at work every day on her Worcestershire beef farm. Her real passion is her horses and over the years she has taught more than 2,000 people to ride, including many disabled people. She’s also staged numerous equestrian events, raised money for charity and even hosted her local agricultural show when it faced closure. Joan bowled us all over with her zest for life and in the words of the lady herself: “It’s a waste of time to sit around and do nothing, so make the most of it”.
I don’t think you could find a more fitting motto to live by.
• Hampshire walk along the Mill Trail to Whitchurch - Follow Steve Davison to Whitchurch in the north-west corner of Hampshire for a meander along the Mill Trail