FARMERS from Herefordshire have starred on a special Christmas episode of a popular Channel 5 programme.

Christmas on the Farm saw presenters Helen Skelton and Jules Hudson join farmers and vets from around the UK.

Herefordshire also made a star appearance when presenter Ruth Goodman explored the rural tradition of wassailing.

Steeped in history, wassailing is traditionally held on the twelfth night after Christmas and performed in orchards to awaken the apple trees from their winter slumber and ward off bad spirits.


The annual ceremony differs from town to village in cider-producing counties.

Goodman visited the county find out if it was something "we ought to embrace in our Christmas celebrations".

Dennis Gwatkin, owner of the award-winning Gwatkins cider based in Abbey Dore, Golden Valley, shared his knowledge of the tradition during the episode on Tuesday evening (December 20).

"It all comes down to having a good time," he said.


The pair went onto to make a punch stewed with festive spices, that would usually be drank at a wassail.

They drank it in a traditional cup and said "wassail" as they did before they sang traditional songs with others in the orchard and watched Morris men dance.

Representatives for Herefordshire mental health charity We are Farming Minds and some of the its One Foot in the Grain group featured later in the programme.

Sam Stables set it up to help farmers dealing with mental health, after he suffered himself.

It provides training, events, information, advice, and support designed to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Bringing farmers into a social setting allows them to have something "to look forward to", he said.

In the programme he went to a winter fayre in Builth Wells with other farmers.

One of the farmers that went on the trip said the charity had allowed him to get out of the house and from under his wife's feet.

While another said he didn't realise so many other farmers were struggling with their mental health like him, and the day trips allowed him to have "companionship".

The full programme can be watched here.