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16 October 2014

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By Nick and Kyra Somerfield
June 2002, Bethlehem
A digital story from Capture Wales

A fulfilled ambition

When Nick and Kyra married, their ambition was to buy and work a Welsh hill farm. They are still, after nearly forty years, clinging to their hillside.

"Nick - At five, I decided on two aims in life... to be a farmer and to marry Kyra... by my mid 20's I'd achieved both.

Kyra - With all our worldly wealth, just fifteen hundred pounds, we came to Wales. Two English hopefuls, in a Celtic heartland of inherited farms... Bethlehem.

Nick - We invented the overdraft... how long did the locals give us...two years?... four?... a decade?

Kyra - Sons... one, two and three... all village schooled. Welsh speaking... made our family complete.
The Beacons scenery was captivating but altitude and harsh climate was not the most favourable. Neighbours came and went, so after sixteen years worsening farming prospects caused us to look at life elsewhere.

Nick - We took it in turns to discover the lucky country, Australia. I to work there for thirteen months while Kyra farmed at home.

Kyra - Then, to change places. A world apart from my best friend, my husband, and the boys. Singing 'Oh little town of Bethlehem' as I sat below a blue gum tree on Christmas day in the Adelaide hills brought tears to my eyes and a natural sadness to my heart. The call of another Bethlehem was too strong.

Nick - Four decades on and we're still clinging to our hillside. Sons, one - an Engineer, two - stonemason, and three - carpenter... and their families live close by. Not one a farmer, but all using daily the skills learned at home. We work on with our land and livestock with a determination...

Kyra - Fighting also for small farmers in developing countries...

Nick - And for the survival of fellow farmers in our own 'Devotion to each other and'...

Kyra - 'Dedication to our beliefs'"

Nick and Kyra Somerfield

What are you currently doing?
We are actively farming 200 acres (89 hectares) of harsh hill country in the Brecon Beacons, and we are both very much involved with farming politics. Our story is about us and our lives together from infant school (and even earlier in fact!) to the present day, six decades on. We had a deep desire to farm and raise our family in the beautiful but tough Brecon Beacons of Wales as early English incomers.

Why did you choose this particular story?
To show a certain amount of success - in surviving - for although many have tried, few have lasted the journey for quite as long! There's also an unspoken question as to the future of working land such as ours when the next generation does not continue farming.

How did you find the whole experience of telling your story?
We didn't know what was in store to be honest with you. A small and diverse bunch of enthusiastic but somewhat mystified people came together in Ammanford and met with the 'Capture Wales' team of palpable enthusiasm and infinite patience who, over the timespan of a few days guided, explained, cajoled and untangled our efforts and helped to create something in which each one of us was pleased and excited to have been involved. I hope they were not too disappointed with our final endeavours!
We all took immense interest in and encouragement from the progress of others and developed admiration for the end results produced by each and every contributor as well as satisfaction and pleasure from their own, and there are plenty more ideas for the future!

Your comments

"This story has certainly uplifted and encouraged me. I am planning to move to a nearby area within the year and it has confirmed my feelings for the area and the people. My father came from this area and it always feels like coming home when I go down there. Good luck for your future and all good wishes." Janis, Colchester

"An incredible story of determination and strength of character. I am really inspired after reading about the hardships you underwent to keep your farm going. It would be lovely to find out more, surely there's a book in this? All the best in your campaigning and for the future of the farm." Jane in Hemel Hempstead.

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