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3 Oct 2014
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Getting Through Foot and Mouth

Reporter Ray Kershaw talked to publican Julie Boocock and vicar Mark I'Anson who, in their different ways, kept their village going when the Foot and Mouth crisis hit...


Mark I'Anson is the vicar of Kirkby Malham. He used to be a farmer himself and was a lay priest for six years, so this background means that he has a good rapport with farmers and understands their problems. Julie Boocock runs the Buck Inn at Malham with her husband. She was actually born on a farm on the outskirts of Malham. They both played an important part in keeping their village going, and keeping each other going, through the Foot and Mouth crisis.

There are about 55 farms in the Dale, primarily upland farms with sheep. When Foot and Mouth arrived in the surrounding counties the farmers of Malham and surrounding areas thought they would escape it. However, "it came onto the moor and then down the Dale and cleared the place out". Julie recalls driving the road from Malham to Settle in October and not seeing a single piece of livestock.

Right from the outset of Foot and Mouth Julie's pub was more or less completely empty. Farmers weren't allowed to leave their farms of course, and people not involved in farming were not coming out either. Mark wasn't able to visit the farms he usually called on. "There was a feeling of conspiracy, and to allay fears and perhaps try and put things in order I liaised with the Ministry at Leeds and eventually they gave me a Licence to go onto all the farm properties". He tried to make sure he got to the farms when the livestock was being taken out to be shot. "The phone was pretty well red hot. People would ring even before I got out of bed asking could I go and see them that day". People's feelings were typical of bereavement, and "took weeks and perhaps months to come to terms with".

Julie recalls that the first night they were 'allowed' out five or six families came into the bar - people she had grown up with and gone to school with. "When they walked in through the door with their families you didn't speak to any of them. You just walked up to them and just held them, because you couldn't have spoken. That's just how it was".

A week after the first confirmed case they were due to have a Rogation Service, which had already been planned, which is meant to be rejoicing for farmyard, river and fields. This didn't seem appropriate so they had a Get Together Service. Julie remembers "I won't ever forget it. I went up to the vicar and he held my hand and he said 'I don't know if I'm going to get through this'. And I said 'Well I'll just tell you something - you better flipping had do, because if you don't then none of us will'". They had a lovely service, remarkable really since outside the church is a big hill and that hill was nose-to-tail with culling wagons which they had to pass to get into the church.

Mark thought he was going to get through it all right but he didn't. There were big, strong ruddy-faced farmers who crumbled, and somebody had to be with them. "I of all people had to try and keep my head up, and to a greater degree I did manage for a long time but, like everyone else, succumbed. Yes, it has affected me and still does". Farmers in the Dale still have unanswered questions about how Foot and Mouth arrived there, but they've survived and are still there - only the outside is different.

Julie has travelled the road to Settle recently and was pleased to notice that there were at least four fields that now have sheep in them. After twelve months of desolation it's great to see sheep being returned to the fields. Mark : "We thought there wouldn't be a lambing time this year, but they have started".

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