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Farmer retires after six decades

PUBLISHED: 12:45 21 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:29 07 July 2010

When young teenager David Loads left school and started working on his dad's farm milking cows seven days a week and toiling countless hours for a pay packet of ten shillings he could never have foreseen that six decades later he would still be on the same farm.

When young teenager David Loads left school and started working on his dad's farm milking cows seven days a week and toiling countless hours for a pay packet of ten shillings he could never have foreseen that six decades later he would still be on the same farm.

But that is the remarkable reality for 83-year-old Mr Loads who has just decided it is time to take a back seat and hand over his own land and rented land to outside contractors.

Farming has always been a labour of love for Mr Loads, and, this week as he looked back over the years he said he would do it all again. In fact, he has actually been working on farms for a total of 69 years because he started work with his father at the age of 14.

“It has been a privilege and a joy of my life to have been farming at Hindringham for 60 years and I have loved being part of this lovely village community. I can say with my hand on my heart that there is nothing I would rather have done,” he said.

He added : “I can honestly say that there are not many farmers who enjoy what they do more than I have through my life.”

Throughout his time on the farm, living at Church Farm located in an idyllic location on a slight rise overlooked by the village church tower, he has had the unstinting support of Jean, his wife of 57 years. Sadly Jean, who was the company secretary, died last year.

“As well as being an excellent wife and mother, Jean was also a very good business partner and we built the business up together,” he said.

David's son Keith joined the farm at the age of 15 on leaving school and father and son have worked the land ever since.

While he continued working with his father, Keith has carved out a lucrative sideline for himself as a comedian and for the past six years has been the resident comic slot in the famous Thursford Christmas Spectacular shows and thousands of people have laughed until they almost cried at his good clean Norfolk humour.

This year Keith, who travels all over the country with his comic routine, will be appearing at the Christmas Variety show at the Cromer pier theatre which opens on December 5, something which he is greatly looking forward to.

But his humour didn't ever extend into the farming environment and he confesses that he always kept the two sides of his life quite separate.

Hindsight, they say, is a wonderful thing and Mr Loads says that looking back on his full life as a farmer the only thing he would have changed is that he would have borrowed more cash in the early days to expand his operation.

At the age of 23 Mr Loads became tenant of Church Farm which comprised 176 acres. Three years later he became tenant of the adjacent Waterloo Farm. In 1962 he began buying land by purchasing the outlying portion of the late Jesse Ryder's Binham estate at £100 per acre. That is the stark contrast to today's prices which, according to Keith, now sells at £5,500 per acre.

Gradually more and more land was acquired either by obtaining the tenancy or purchasing the freehold.

Mr Loads stresses that he is not “packing it in” just yet and will continue to be involved in farming nearly 1500 acres together with his son through contract farming carried out by Albanwise Farming Co, the current winners of Norfolk's best kept farm competition.

Mr Loads said that the thing that gave him the most pleasure was in building up his farm from 176 acres to its present-day 1500 acres.

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