3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Interview with Sarah Righton: We meet the woman behind the Moreton Show 2018

PUBLISHED: 16:57 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 01 August 2018

Sarah Righton with Glamrock

Sarah Righton with Glamrock

Archant

On the eve of Moreton Show, we hear about farmer Sarah Righton ‘comfortably hectic’ life after overcoming breast cancer

Sarah Righton is a busy woman. She has to be. With husband, Simon, she runs a 300-acre mixed farm in the furthest corner of the north Cotswolds and it’s not just about the permanent pasture or the cattle, sheep, pigs and horses. There’s also a bed and breakfast business, a holiday let, a camping site and a farm shop. There are regular visits from school parties and Old Farm has opened its gates on Open Farm Sunday, when up to 700 people have come to see what happens in the countryside.

Life is fast-moving and comfortably hectic but she would not want it any other way after successfully overcoming breast cancer in 2010.

The 12 months of treatment made the 51 year-old mother of two reassess her life but she remains as busy as ever. Her enthusiasm for farming has led to countless radio interviews and numerous television appearances for her and Old Farm. Much of the publicity can be attributed to the Glamrock pigs (half Gloucestershire Old Spot, quarter Hampshire and quarter Duroc), the result of Sarah’s breeding programme, exclusive to Old Farm and featured as a new breed in Jack Byard’s book Know Your Pigs. But the farm was also the setting for Adam and Nigel’s Farm Kitchen in 2013, the same year that Father Brown came to visit. The BBC’s Countryfile has visited twice. There have been plenty of awards too, including Cotswold Life’s very own Best Farm Shop award in 2012.

Sarah said: ‘Our motto has always been to say yes to things because you never know where they will lead.’

She has a keen eye for a good story but publicity is also her way of telling anyone who will listen about the importance of farming in producing the food we all eat. She’s living the life of a modern farmer’s wife and loving every minute.

The Righton family: Sam, Simon, Sarah and MegThe Righton family: Sam, Simon, Sarah and Meg

Old Farm is her domain. It’s in Dorn, little more than a collection of farms and cottages on the Batsford Estate near Moreton in Marsh that was once the site of a significant small Roman town. The trenches, walls, pottery and coins are buried now, under just one of the many fields on the farm laid to permanent pasture and next door to the caravan and camp site which is just one of the alternative enterprises that keep Sarah busy and Old Farm thriving.

Unusually, however, half of their land is given up every year for Moreton Show, probably the biggest one-day agricultural show in the country. It’s all in their tenancy agreement with the Batsford Estate that the fields must be laid to permanent pasture for the showground and the Rightons have been involved with the show since the first one in 1949.

With extra car parking planned for this year’s show on Saturday, September 1, that amounts to 150 acres of pasture. Setting up begins at the beginning of August and the land is handed back in the middle of September.

‘We love Moreton Show,’ said Sarah. ‘We’re both sit on show committees and it’s another chance to spread the word about farming to the thousands of people who come from all over the UK. If we don’t talk about what we do and the next farmer doesn’t do it and we’re all too busy to pass on what we know, then it could easily get lost. Farming has changed so much since Simon’s parents ran the farm and it’s still changing. It’s important that we pass on this knowledge because – you never know – we might need to go back to some of the old skills one day.’

For several years, Old Farm has sold its own produce at Moreton Show. This year, they’re taking things further. As part of the ‘Farmtastic’ feature of the Rural Attractions area, Sarah and Simon are bringing their own mini-version of Old Farm to the show, with some sheep, pigs and alpacas. It’s typical of Sarah’s enthusiasm that she wants to get more involved in promoting the business she’s in.

Sitting in the picturesque farmhouse with features that date back to the 15th Century, Sarah reflects on life as a modern farmer’s wife.

‘Simon is a third generation farmer because it was his grandfather that first took the tenancy of Old Farm in the 1930s. Simon was always going to take over from his father. Sometimes I get a little bit cross when I hear people talking about the farmer being busy, as if it’s just Simon. Women have always had a vital role in farming. It’s a team effort.

‘I didn’t set out to be a farmer’s wife and I feel very lucky to have all this. I grew up in the countryside in Cheshire though not on a farm. I always enjoyed working on the land in the school holidays. I’m a doer and I like to be out and about. I’ve always worked on farms. It’s difficult to explain why I was drawn to this type of lifestyle. Perhaps it was just in me.’

The life she loves came under threat in 2009 when she went to the doctor with a suspicious lump but she can even talk about her darkest moment with a smile.

‘I remember walking out of the doctor’s in a daze,’ she said. ‘But when the surgeon took charge and explained what was going to happen, Simon and I felt a lot better about things. I looked out of the window and everything was brighter, the grass was greener, the birds were chirpier and the sky was bluer and I just wanted to make the most of it.

‘That’s when I had my light bulb moment. I had critical illness cover so after my treatment we took two months off and said ‘right kids, where do you want to go?’ We went to Orlando, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. It was amazing and if I hadn’t had the cancer, we wouldn’t have been able to afford a trip like that. None of us knows what’s around the corner so you have to grab every opportunity with both hands.’

She went on: ‘The cancer made us both reassess. While the shop continued to get busier and we were thinking about expanding further, we took a step back in 2016. We still wanted to sell our meat but I needed to get back on the farm so the shop is still open on Fridays and Saturdays. We had to make the farm work for us rather than the other way round.’

Never one to stay still for too long, Sarah joined three fellow cancer survivors to form F4 - Farming Females Feeling Fabulous – and create a farming-themed, Calendar Girls-style calendar to raise money for Focus, the charity that raises money for the Gloucestershire Oncology Centre. The four have recruited Bake-Off’s Prue Leith, the celebrity chef who lives in Gloucestershire, as their patron.

‘Focus helps with the extras that make the treatment a little bit more bearable,’ said Sarah. ‘I wanted to put something back. We have a collecting tin in the farm shop but I hope the calendar will raise a lot more.’

Sarah, like all the women involved, will be featured on the calendar, which will be launched at Moreton Show and available on FarmingFemalesFeelingFabulous.com.

Moreton Show – the essential info:

Tickets for Moreton Show are available now from a variety of local outlets, as well as online, and there are considerable savings if you buy before show day. Show day prices – with savings in brackets – are adults £18 (£15); children £8 (£6); family tickets (2 adults and 3 children) £48 (£40). For all the details about the show and tickets, visit the Moreton Show website here or call 01608 651908.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Yesterday, 15:25

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tue, 11:50

Enjoy a day in the sunshine at these wonderful Pick Your Own fruit farms in the Cotswolds...

Read more
Tue, 10:58

On a sunny day there’s nothing quite like making a splash at the pool. From community-run lidos to luxury outdoor pools, we pick 8 places in the Cotswolds to enjoy an al fresco dip

Read more
Tue, 10:42

Tracy Spiers visited this attractive place a year ago and returned to find it bustling and vibrant, with new independent shops to visit and familiar friendly faces ready to welcome both herself and her family

Read more
Tue, 10:41

This month Worcester Racecourse celebrates its 300th Anniversary. Stephen Roberts returns to his roots to find out more about the place known as ‘Pitchcroft’

Read more
Mon, 11:00

Cotswold villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think honey-coloured cottages, cosy pubs, tiny tearooms and narrow streets. We pick ten of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to explore.

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tracy Spiers enjoys screen-free time in Stratford, thanks to Jane’s Trivia Trail

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

On the eve of Moreton Show, we hear about farmer Sarah Righton ‘comfortably hectic’ life after overcoming breast cancer

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

School summer holidays are looming, and luckily there’s no shortage of boredom-busting activities on the doorstep connecting children to nature and the beautiful Cotswolds landscapes. Here are 14 fun, adventurous, creative ways to help keep everyone happy (and healthy) in the great outdoors

Read more
Monday, July 30, 2018

Ray Mears, JB Gill & Miranda Krestovnikoff to speak at BBC Countryfile Live this week

Read more
Friday, July 27, 2018

Take a leisurely stroll around the lovely leafy pathways of Sherborne Estate and Lodge Park

Read more
Monday, July 23, 2018

If captivating grade-listed buildings with landscaped gardens are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. We pick 10 of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring stately homes you simply need to visit this year

Read more
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Perhaps one of the most famous locations in the Cotswolds, the quintessential cottages and pretty riverside location of Bibury are a must-visit on any trip to the region.

Read more
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Quench your thirst for culture, countryside and a cool drink with this pleasant amble through sleepy backwaters that boast some of the greatest artists, writers and crafters of the twentieth century

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder


Property Search