After working for the same farming family for more than 50 years, farmhand Dave Cope’s dedication and loyalty has been officially recognised.
Dave was presented with a certificate and a silver medal from the Royal Agricultural Society of England in recognition of his long service at a surprise party with family and friends at the Golden Lion Hotel, Easenhall.
He started working for the Barnes family who own two farms - The Laurels, Kings Newnham, and Abbey Hall Farm, Brinklow - in 1964 at the age of 15.
“It’s actually been 55 years because I started doing chores around the farm when I was just 10,” said Dave, of Brownsover Road, Newbold-on-Avon. “I used to come over at the weekends and during the school holidays to help feed the sheep and cattle and open the gates to earn some pocket money.
“Farming has been my life. I love being outside and working with animals. There’s nothing about the job I don’t like.”
The biggest change Dave has seen during his working life in agriculture has been the introduction of modern equipment and new technology.
“We hardly used any machinery in the early days,” added Dave. “Even some jobs like digging ditches and hedge cutting was done by hand and it was hard graft. Now there is a machine for everything.”
Dave, a father of two and a grandfather, has only taken lengthy periods off work when both his hips were replaced and when he suffered a heart attack last year.
He said: “I don’t like being away from the farm for more than a week. I get so bored and go almost crazy. Even when I go on holiday with my wife, Lin, we have always stayed on farms. I’ve always got to be around a farm.
“I love every minute of my job. In the mornings I can’t get to work quick enough. I’ve been so happy here and the Barnes family have been absolutely wonderful people to work for.
“I turned 65 in January but I don’t want to retire. I hope to carry on for a few more years.”
Lisa Barnes said: “Dave has worked for four generations of my family. He worked for my son’s great-great-uncle, Harry Barnes, then for my father-in-law, Ian Barnes, my husband, Martin Barnes, and my son, Harry Barnes.
“Dave has been a fantastic support to our family over the years, always adapting to the dramatic changes in the agricultural industry, and is much appreciated by all in the local farming community.”