Cumbria

Foot-and-mouth failed to destroy Cumbrian farmer's passion

The grandson of a Cumbrian farmer who provided one of the lasting images of the foot-and-mouth crisis has told of his passion for the business despite the challenges he has faced.

Jeff Bell was interviewed at the gate of his farm at Hallbankgate, near Brampton, in 2001.

It was during the foot-and-mouth crisis which led to the slaughter of 6.5m animals and is estimated to have cost the UK up to £8bn. Cumbria was worst hit.

Mr Bell had been advised to get rid of his 1,800 sheep and lambs in the hope of saving his cows, but it was not enough.

The heartbroken farmer told how he had lost everything.

Beside him stood his 18-year-old grandson Simon Dalton, who said he did not think he would remain in farming.

But 10 years on he is still running the farm after taking on the tenancy. Mr Bell now works in livestock haulage.

Mr Dalton said: "I don't know if I have done the right thing or not by carrying on but if I don't give it a go somebody else will."

He said the job was challenging and he did not make a lot of money from it.

But he said he carried on simply because he loved it.

Image caption Simon Dalton said despite the challenges, he loves the job

The memories of what happened in 2001 are still strong and he remembers his grandfather being interviewed.

He said: "I was still shocked really I think.

"I didn't know what my future held and I didn't think anything like that would ever happen.

"The farming industry was just at a standstill, just over a disease really, it practically wiped the farming community out.

"It was hard seeing all your stock being taken away from you and there was nothing you could do.

"And, yeah, you got a bit of compensation and things. It was just to buy your stock back, there was no actual compensation for yourself and what you went through."

He still has piles of letters of support the family received after people heard about their plight.

The 28-year-old said he hoped if foot and mouth ever came back it would be stamped out earlier than last time round.

"I think folk just sat back and just didn't think it was going to be as bad as they thought it was," he said.

"And by the time that they decided to do something, it was too late. It was spreading quicker than they could cull them."

But he said his grandparents had supported him in his wish to stay in farming.

He said: "It is what I want to do. I have made a decision this is the way I want to go. We will just see what the future holds."

More on this story

Around the BBC