An 86-year-old former hedge layer from Lindfield was awarded for his services to agriculture at the South of England Show this weekend.
The award presented by Princess Anne commends John Blake for his ‘contribution to the traditional craft of hedge laying’.
John said: “I’ve been awarded for services to agriculture, it’s only once in seven years this award is given in West Sussex so I’m very pleased.
“I guess the fact that I’ve been given it should mean that I’ve deserved it!”
John was commended in particular for his work as chairman on the National Hedge Laying Association.
“The day went very well really, I thought it was just a fuss about nothing but it really was a quite magical day, and Princess Anne was so easy to converse with,” he added.
“I’ve not only done the practical farm craft of hedge laying but I’ve trained others to do it, that’s why I’ve been given the award.”
John learnt his trade in the 1940’s, until he eventually helped set up the South of England Hedge Laying Society in the 1980’s, which now has more than 150 members.
“Some of them aren’t even hedge layers,” John added.
“They’re just interested in what we do.”
The citation on the award recognises his contribution to Dutch hedge laying, as one of John’s students took his teachings back to Holland.
“I was also an active leader in young people’s farmers clubs, but that was 30 years ago now,” John explained.
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