Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-britain’s-oldest-farmer,-93,-continues-to-work-at-least-66-hours-a-week-and-has-never-had-a-day-off-sick-after-toiling-fields-for-80-yearsAlert – Britain’s oldest farmer, 93, continues to work AT LEAST 66 hours a week and has never had a day off sick after toiling fields for 80 years

Britain’s oldest farmer is refusing to be put out to pasture quite yet as he ploughs into 93 with his gruelling 66-hour weeks on the farm.

Spirited  Fred Campling continues to work five-days every week running his sugar beet and haulage firm in Lincolnshire .

The dedicated farmer, who has not had a single sick day for nearly 80 years wakes up bright and early at 6am, raking up 66 hours a week on his time sheet. 

He has worked on the farm in Sutton Saint James through a staggering 21 Prime Minister, five monarchs and two world wars.

And despite his 93rd birthday being on the horizon – this Saturday – sprightly Fred has no plans on slowing down any time soon, as he even plans to spend his birthday morning hunting for motoring parts.

‘I still feel the same as I did 20 or 30 years ago. I cannot quite do everything I used to be able to, but I can still do what I want to do, things like driving,’ he said

‘It’s names that I struggle to remember now. You’ve got to have something to get up for in the morning – and something you like doing.

‘If you like doing it, you’ll do it properly – you also need a bit of good luck and good health.

He added. ‘You’ve just got to keep doing something – that’s what keeps you going. I’ve said this many times before – when I pack up they will dig the hole for me.’

Fred, who has three adult children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, left school at 14 to begin a career in agriculture on his family’s farm.

Only six years later he was at he helm of the farm following the sudden death of his father who was just 48.

Originally he began growing strawberries on his 17-acre, but later switched to sugar beet and cattle which provided the family’s staple income.

‘I didn’t really get an education, I went to work, you had to, to make a living,’ he said. 

‘I always helped at home when I was younger, working on Saturdays and Sundays feeding the cattle.

‘Father only had 17 acres. I started work when I left school at 14 and he paid me £1 per week.

‘He never had a car or anything. My first push bike cost £7 new. It took seven weeks to earn that.

‘My father died at 48, so I was only about 20 when I started farming on my own.

‘It was a different world back then; we had no mains electricity in the house and had to go outside to use the toilet.

‘I’ve grown sugar beet all my life and am still going strong, although we only have about 15 acres now.

‘The thing I like about sugar beet is if you do a good job you can see you’ve done a good job.

‘You’ve got something to look back on. If you don’t do a good job, you’ve got to put it right.

He added: ‘I’ve worked with all different sugar beet harvesters over the years, and I contract lift for other farmers, mainly in Norfolk. I’ve been doing it over 40 years, with the same farmers.

‘They all know me, I worked for their fathers, I’ve watched them grow up.’

Fred married local primary school teacher Ruth in 1956 and they were married for 66 years until she died in 2022.

He now runs the farm and business with their sons Mark, 60, Philip, 65, and daughter Catherine, 59.

Many of his employees have been with the firm for decades and are considered part of the family.

Fred said: ‘I just enjoy working; I like working for the people I work for – they mostly leave me to it.

‘Some of my workers have been with me since I started; Ian is 78 and still driving a lorry – he can do anything.

‘It’s a different world now, everything is so expensive – machinery and repairs have gone through the roof.’

Fred’s daughter Catherine, who works in the office, said: ‘The word retirement to is like a swear word to my father, he’s already planning the next beet season.

‘He looked after my mum and then would go on the beet harvester all day. He did that all day. It was sheer determination.

‘She was paralysed, he used to get her in the car and take her in the car all over the place.

‘He’s 93 on Saturday. He gets up at 6am until 5pm at this time of year, he does that five days a week now.

‘He used to do it seven days a week. He’ll be driving around looking for spares on a Saturday. Sometimes he does more. He’s remarkable really.’

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