I doubt any of my other blogs will feature a picture of me with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The reason for meeting the Prince (we didn’t bump into each other in a book shop as the photo might suggest) starts with a letter.
Imagine a seventeen-year-old boy living in rural North Yorkshire with a couple of chickens, a brace of Springer Spaniels and seven Hebridean sheep – rural idyll for many. For me, it was the biggest farm in the world.
Seventeen is the age when the phrase ‘work experience constantly’ crops up. It seemed to me that it was prudent to work on a farm for a couple of weeks to see a touch more of agriculture than my seven sheep. Where better than possibly the best known farm in the country? The Duchy Home Farm in Tetbury could offer me a fantastic insight of a huge range of agricultural process and practices. Plus they had Hebridean sheep!
So I wrote to the Prince of Wales and his farm manager explaining how I wasn’t from a farming background but I’d love to farm and would they be able to help out with some work experience?
After not hearing anything for a couple of weeks I sent another letter asking if they could actually reply to this one (ballsy!) and got a response explaining that I was more than welcome to come down for two weeks unpaid work in the summer. At the end of two fantastic weeks I was asked by David, the farm manager, if I would like to return the following summer for a couple of months paid work. Ummmm, yes please.
Fast forward four years to a marquee at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.
I’m now twenty one, I have around one hundred and fifty Hebridean sheep, fifty acres of grazing and I supply premium rare breed Hebridean lamb to fine dining establishments in both London and Yorkshire.
I never got a chance to meet His Royal Highness when I was at Tetbury but last week I was finally able to thank him for the experiences that were so formative to enabling me to get where I am today. We chatted about the virtues of Hebridean sheep and the urgent need for more young farmers. It was a truly memorable few minutes, ones that will never be forgotten and for which I’ll be forever grateful.