BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson was present at a gathering held at North Cadbury Court on Tuesday which brought together more than 40 ‘old boys’ who had been part of a scheme, British Boys for British Farms, which ran from 1932 to 1966 and saw 20,000 students, from all walks of life, get the chance to try their hand at farming.
Tuesday’s gathering, which was co-ordinated by Stephen Milner of the YMCA, brought together many of the scheme’s former participants, including one ‘old boy’ from Canada, staff and host farmers at the Somerset home of Archie Montgomery whose grandparents had given over use of their house as one of the scheme’s three main training centres.
Though now largely forgotten, it was a hugely successful scheme, praised by the Ministry of Agriculture and the NFU.
Farmer and TV presenter Adam said, “I’ve been in farming all my life and had never heard of the British Boys for British Farms scheme.
“It’s amazing to think how the training centres have helped agriculture, both here and abroad, taking boys as young as 15 into what, for some, must have been quite an alien environment, but set them up to spend their working lives in agriculture.”
Archie Montgomery said, “I’m gratified that so many have thought it worthwhile coming along to the reunion.
“The purpose is to re-invigorate and re-educate people about the existence of the scheme as we’re all getting older.
“Back in 1950 my grandparents were living in this big house and using about a quarter of it so they offered to take the boys from all walks of life, normally 35 at a time who stayed for eight weeks and gave them the chance of another horizon.”
Countryfile will feature the British Boys for British Farms reunion on the programme being broadcast on Sunday 15th June.