70-year-old publican volunteers as tractor driver during lockdown

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Field of expertise: licensee Andy Pickles is using his tractor-driving skills to help farm the land
Field of expertise: licensee Andy Pickles is using his tractor-driving skills to help farm the land

Related tags: UnitedWeStand, Coronavirus, Pub, Public house

The owner and operator of the Bowgie Inn in Crantock, Cornwall, has swapped pulling pints for ploughing during the Covid-19 shutdown in a bid to boost local agriculture.

Following his pub’s temporary closure, Andy Pickles has moved from behind the bar to behind the wheel to help local farmers ready their fields for planting this year’s crops. 

Before purchasing the Bowgie – the Cornish word for ‘cow shed’ – 45 years ago, Pickles spent his early years at Trevellan Farm just outside Truro where he helped his dad run the farm before moving into hospitality.

According to the pub’s website, Pickles continued to put his green fingers to good use after purchasing the pub in the 1970s, growing potatoes for the pub’s chips on a clifftop field overlooking the Cornish coast.

However, unable to volunteer running errands for vulnerable members of his community on account of the fact he turned 70 earlier this year, the publican offered to join farmers and farm workers – included on the Government’s list of key workers given they’ve involved in the production, processing and distribution of food – “ripping” fields near his childhood home.

“Of course, things have changed a bit since I was a boy but driving a tractor is a skill that not everybody has these days,” Pickles said. “I was so glad to think of a way to help do my bit without endangering myself or anyone else in the process. 

“We’re all finding ways of pulling together to make these restrictions more bearable for our communities, both socially and physically. And driving a tractor is like riding a bike – it’s not something you forget in a hurry.”

According to figures published on 25 March, more than half a million Brits had volunteered to help the NHS during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Reliance on British agriculture

To maintain a sense of community during the coronavirus-related chaos, Pickles’ partner Sally has taken to updating the pub’s Facebook page photos and videos during the shutdown.

“Those of you that know him will know he’s not one to sit around if there’s a way in which he can be helping, particularly the farmers who are working hard to help keep food on everyone’s tables during such a crucial time,” Sally explained. 

“We are all going to be incredibly reliant on British agriculture over the next few months, which is another reason why Andy was so passionate about volunteering his time.

“One of the last big social gatherings at the Bowgie was Andy’s 70th birthday, when family and friends in the local community were invited for a celebratory slice of cake and a cuppa. We’re really looking forward to welcoming everyone back here when we’re able to reopen.”

Related topics: Other operators, UnitedWeStand

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