Essex ploughing supremo, Billy, 22, wins place at European finals after scooping third place at British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival in Somerset

Essex farmer Billy Purkiss receiving his trophy from Society of Ploughmen president Ken Coles. Pictu

Essex farmer Billy Purkiss receiving his trophy from Society of Ploughmen president Ken Coles. Picture: SOCIETY OF PLOUGHMEN - Credit: Archant

A 22-year-old Essex farmer has won through to next year’s European ploughing finals in Russia after scooping third place overall in a national competition.

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE - Credit: Shelagh Grace

Billy Purkiss, of Hawkwell Hall Farm, Hockley, near Southend-on-Sea, was among four competitors from Suffolk and Essex attempting to plough the straightest furrow at a national championship event held in Somerset over the weekend of October 14 and 15.

They were up against around 260 champion ploughmen and women at the British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton.

Billy, who competed in the reversible class, came third in the reversible plough-off, and was crowned young farmers champion.

Other competitors from the region included Ernest Doe employee Paul Wylie from Tolleshunt D’Arcy, near Maldon, Michael Moore from Asheldham, Southminster, and Steve Arbon from Boxford, near Sudbury.

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE - Credit: Shelagh Grace


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The event, which was celebrating its 67th year, attracts competitors and spectators from all over the country.

It’s the third year in a row that Billy has competed at the event, and he has perfected his technique and equipment over the years, he said. He also believes that good preparation and practice was key to his success.

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He competed using his John Deere 5100R tractor, specially adapted for competition purposes, and a Kverneland Reversible match plough.

He started ploughing at 16 and soon caught the bug. He has been crowned national young farmers reversible champion three times and is now overall national young farmers champion. He will now be representing England at the 2018 European finals.

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE

Billy Purkiss of Hockley, near Rayleigh. Picture: SHELAGH GRACE - Credit: Shelagh Grace

“The land down there is totally different,” he said. “The stuff we have here - Essex clay - is hard work.”

He went to this year’s championships with the aim of retaining his crown, but took it a stage further, he said.

“We had a really good time,” he said. “It’s the first time I have won the overall young farmers. I was very pleased to do that - the target going down there was to keep the reversible young farmer one.”

The fourth generation farmer said training in Staffordshire with some friends in the run-up to the event stood him in good stead.

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