Arable farmer named as a 'rural hero'

AN East Anglian farmer has been named among 10 national “Rural Heroes” selected by the Countryside Alliance to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The heroes have each been chosen to reflect the experience of a different aspect of rural life during a decade of significant change, with Graham Downing, from Chediston, near Halesworth, chosen to represent arable farming.

AN East Anglian farmer has been named among 10 national “Rural Heroes” selected by the Countryside Alliance to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The heroes have each been chosen to reflect the experience of a different aspect of rural life during a decade of significant change, with Graham Downing, from Chediston, near Halesworth, chosen to represent arable farming.

In 2003, Mr Downing entered the Countryside Stewardship Scheme which has helped to revolutionise farming into a greener industry. By replacing hedgerows, planting trees, restoring farm ponds and creating a wild flower meadow, he has, says the Alliance, become an example of the way the arable sector is heading.

In addition, a barn which Mr Downing and his wife have converted has just opened as a new independent living centre, providing a valuable facility for elderly and disabled people throughout north Suffolk.


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Other aspects of the rural life represented by the chosen heroes including livestock farming, local food, rural entrepreneurship, hunting, gamekeeping and fishing and well as a village postmistress and a contry GP.

Alice Barnard, the Countryside Alliance's regional director for the East of England, said: “Some of our heroes' stories are sad; some are positive, but there remains a feeling that rural life has survived Blair's decade despite the Government, not because of it.

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“There is a feeling that rural issues were never high on the agenda in 'Cool Britannia', and that to a very urban Government the countryside was 'another country,' to be used rather than lived in.

“In the end, we think that one thing shines through all of these stories - hope. However the last 10 years have treated them they are all looking forward to the next decade, and Graham is a great example of someone who is fighting for the survival of rural life.”

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