May I share with readers a little story about Reg Haydon OBE, Honorary Life President and former National Chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association (“TFA mourns the loss of a ‘true giant’”, WSG, Sept 7).
I first met Mr Haydon in 2002 – 14 years ago – to confirm something I had stumbled across in my research on ‘Professor’ C.E.M. Joad – made famous in the wartime Brains Trust (a popular BBC radio programme which older readers might still remember).
I had discovered that the ‘Professor’ regularly stayed at South Stoke Farm to write many of his 100+ philosophy books. His last book – “Folly Farm” – was a posthumous work of fiction, and Joad had described in detail the landscape surrounding his fictitious dream farm – his folly. The description seemed to fit South Stoke Farm and the surrounding area, but I needed confirmation.
I had heard Reg Haydon didn’t suffer fools gladly, so it was with considerable trepidation I walked up to his front door. I was a ‘townie’. He was not. This was a working farm. He was a working farmer. I was not.
He listened graciously to what I had to say, saying little, but confirmed that Joad’s ‘Folly Farm’ was indeed South Stoke Farm. Armed with this confirmation, I said I was thinking of organising an event to mark Joad’s 50th Anniversary – in 2003.
Reg Haydon immediately offered the Chapel Barn as the venue, and there would be no charge.
Thus, the South Stoke Festival of Thought took place on April 9 2003, thanks to this wonderfully kind gesture. It proved to be a great day – and not just for me.
And thanks to Mr Haydon and his family – and the small community – there is now a Joad Archive at the Arundel Museum and The Joadian Way – probably the most beautiful short walk in the South Downs National Park.
Reg Haydon OBE will be remembered with affection and gratitude by this ‘townie’ – and I know I’m not alone.