Farmer Fred (80) not ready to retire yet

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FRED Campling has lifted sugar beet with almost every harvester that has ever been known – and is still working aged 80.

Over a period of 70 years he has worked with everything – from horses when he first helped out his father while still at school, to the most sophisticated machine costing in excess of £400,000.

Fred took over at the helm of the family contracting business, Fred Campling & Sons at Sutton St James, early in life after his father died at 48.

“I shouldn’t think I was above 20,” recalls Fred, who says he is still out every day on the sugar beet harvester in Norfolk, and was even harvesting in last year’s snow.

The business is also involved in haulage and while one son, Phillip, works with the lorries, Mark has joined his father on the contracting side, while daughter Catherine looks after the office and the indoor bowling green the family runs in the village.

Fred says: “I never thought I’d be working at 80 when dad died at 48. I have kept pretty fit. I have been very lucky. It’s kept me busy because I don’t like doing nothing.”

As well as his agricultural work, Fred looks after his wife, Ruth, who has been in a wheelchair since suffering a stroke. The couple enjoy caravanning and have been all over Europe on their travels.

He says: “Everybody knows us all over. I have been in Sutton St James all my life and never wanted to move. I am quite happy. They keep wanting me to pack up but while I am fit and able to do it and enjoy doing it I am going to carry on.”