A WELL-KNOWN Herefordshire farm labourer has bid farewell to the job he has tirelessly worked in for more than five decades.

Roger Bowen was just 15 when he started at Oakfields Farm in Kingsland, near Leominster, and has spent 54 years getting stuck in to just about any task.

From four days and nights spent in the lambing shed without going home, to visiting country shows around the UK and scooping awards, Mr Bowen said the job has always varied.

He was given a job at Oakfields Farm by the owner at the time Derek Vaughan, a man who Mr Bowen, now 69, said was a father figure and taught him everything he knows.

Mr Bowen said: “I got involved with livestock thanks to Mr Vaughan. He was a very good tutor. We had a good herd of pedigree Hereford cattle which he ran and I helped him out with them.

“He was a judge and judged all over the world, his cattle was exported all over the world with me behind him as well.

“We had a pedigree herd of livestock pigs, I took on control of them. We won no end of shows with them, and the Herefords. We’d clean up shows all through England.

He added: “We’d just clean up, we won no end of prizes with the pigs. We exported the pigs, he judged in the pigging world and he passed all his knowledge to me.

“I was so proud because I had a good tutor like him. We went on, he gave me full control of the pigs and that was top herd in the country, like his cattle. He gave me a lot of responsibility.”

Mr Bowen described the the Vaughan family as “the best people to work for”, with the farm now run by Derek’s sons Peter and James.

He said he had loved the 54 years spent at Oakfields and would never want to change it.

He also paid tribute to his wife, who has had to contend with the long hours he worked.

“My wife, Carol, has had a lot to put up with over the years. As time went on I’d say to her ‘I’ve just got to pop down the farm’ as a cow would be cow calving, a sow farrowing or ewes lambing.

“I said I’d be 10 minutes, but I might be down there two hours, I might be down there four hours. She took all that on.”

One of the proudest moments of his long career was in 2016 when he was handed an award by Princess Anne when he passed the 50-year mark.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England’s long service awards are presented to workers after 40 or more years with either one employer on the same or different holdings, or on the same holding with different employers.

“I was presented a long-service medal by the Princess Royal which I was very proud of,” Mr Bowen said.

“All my children and the grandchildren, were there. It was a really good day. They do a 40-year presentation as well, but 50 is the big one.

“Princess Ann had time to listen, she wasn’t rushing. She is a lovely lady. But if you asked what we talked about, I couldn’t tell you. It was such a big moment.

“I think the most you can do is 60 years and you win a silver cup.

“I was hoping I was going have a go at that, the trouble is the mind is willing but the body isn’t.”

With his last day at work on Tuesday spent harvesting potatoes, Mr Bowen said he’ll spend the first month relaxing, but will then find things to keep him busy.