From horses to tractors, farmer Jack has seen it all down the years

Shropshire farmer Jack Parker may be 94, but he still drives around the fields most days to ensure everything on the farm, now run by his son, Phil, is in working order.

Jack Parker and Julia Sadler
Jack Parker and Julia Sadler

The former NFU county chairman started his career ploughing with horses and has seen endless changes in the industry.

He was recently honoured by rural insurer NFU Mutual for being its longest standing customer after chalking up 70 years with it.

He was presented with a hamper for his long service.

Mr Parker takes to his John Deere vehicle to do the round on Manor Farm in Stanton Lacy.

“He still tells me what to do,” Phil said.

“Even in his 70s and early 80s he was doing an awful lot, it’s only in the last few years he’s slowed down.

Jack on the farm in the early days

“We’re tenant farmers, and he’s still a partner in the business. Our landlord has allowed him to stay in the farmhouse, he doesn’t want to move, it’s where he’s lived since 1960.”

Born in the suburbs of Manchester, Mr Parker first helped local farmers near Stockport before working on farms in Market Drayton near Stafford where he saved up enough money to buy a farm in Shropshire.

“In 1952 he bought a place in Bishop’s Castle in the Shropshire hills,” explained Phil.

“I wouldn’t call it a hill farm but it wasn’t far off, some parts were pretty vertical.

“He was there for eight years and then he got the tenancy on the farm we’re on now and sold that place to stock this farm. I was born on this farm.”

Mr Parker was chairman of the Bishop’s Castle NFU branch in the 1950s and was made Shropshire NFU County Chairman in 1968, just after the 1967 foot-and-mouth outbreak in the county.

“He was just under 40 when he took on the job which was quite rare then,” said Phil.

He was also Chairman of the Shropshire Grassland Society and a committee member of the British Grassland Society. He used to milk dairy cows until 2008 but now the farm is mainly arable, growing oilseed rape, winter barley, winter wheat, and bit of forage maize. The farm also has finishing beef cattle.

“When he started he was ploughing with horses,” said Phil.

NFU Mutual has provided Jack’s farm insurance for 70 years and has always been on hand to help when needed, including a few years ago when the farm’s grain dryer was destroyed in a fire.

Julia Sadler delivered the hamper to celebrate Jack being their longest standing customer.

She said: “Since NFU Mutual was founded by seven farmers in 1910, our commitment to customers and providing a local, personalised service has always been the first priority. This is one of the reasons why so many of our customers choose to stay with us for a long time.

“We had to mark Jack’s loyalty to us somehow, and it was my pleasure to deliver a hamper to the farm and hear some of his fantastic stories.

“As an insurer which rewards loyalty with savings for long-serving members, we’re proud to have many longstanding relationships with customers, but there won’t be many who can trump Jack.”

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