We received the sad news that OW Jim Dickenson passed away at the beginning of March 2019.

Jim was in Haywardsfield House at Lampeter from 1943 – 1945. He was an active member of the Young Farmers Club Committee, the Scouts and ATC and gained his Colours in the 2nd XV.

Jim Dickenson – Eulogy kindly provided by Keith and Ashley Dickenson

We have been very honoured and humbled by the floods of letters and cards we’ve received and by the amount of people who have turned out today. I knew he’d done many things in life but didn’t realise he was this popular- thank you!

The only son of Ernest and Jean Dickenson. Jim was immensely proud of his father who fought throughout the first world war, at Alexandria in Egypt, Gallipoli, Katia, Romani and also taking part in the last cavalry charge the army ever did at Huj in the Sinai Desert. In tribute to his father we have, as well as the British legion standard, the Royale Gloucester Hussars Standard and Keith’s son Joe in the R.A.F Uniform is wearing Jim’s father’s medals.

Jim was born on 19th April 1929 –  primrose day –  at his mother’s ancestral home in Stroud –  Mowmead –  now demolished it stood above the Clothiers Arms on the Bath Road.

His early years were spent living in Down Farm Cottages alongside the farm’s carter, Jack Timbrell. Jim’s Grandfather –  a canny businessman and farmer lived in the big house. Jim often recalled being sent down in to the cellars to fetch cider for Grandfather Joseph –  who ­ determined not to let the young lad test the ale – would make him whistle from the time he left his eyesight until he returned with the cider.

We were often reminded that times were hard –  water was drawn from the well, there was no electricity or proper sanitation. They bathed as a family once a week in front of the fire. Jim first, then his mother and finally his father. A tradition we still uphold today.

He regularly re-called the time his mother went to hang the washing out one day, she immediately hit a problem –  NO CLOTHES PEGS.  On further investigation, she noticed the door to the outside privy was ajar. On peering inside she found Jim, kneeling down looking into the latrine at a pile of clothes pegs. After sternly questioning him, he informed her that he’d been “bombing the maggots” with her precious pegs.

In 1938 Jim went to Stroud high school (which was mixed then, just in case you were wondering). He went there for one year, and it was there that he encountered bees for the first time. A teacher called Miss Ottley put an observation hive in the class for the summer and he spent more time watching the bees than doing classwork (education never was his forte, nor was neat handwriting).

A year later in 1939 his relatively wealthy grandfather financed his move to further his education to Wycliffe. There he stayed for his early teenage years and in 1943 he joined the Wycliffe YFC.  Later in that same year, and because of WW2,the Americans commandeered the College and at the tender age of 14 Jim was evacuated to Lampeter in Wales.

During the summer terms, the Master in charge, a Mr Parrot (who was nicknamed Polly…. for obvious reasons and who was also a keen beekeeper), knew that Jim had an interest  in bees so would often take him out of class in order to go and help him catch swarms (pre-Ofsted). Another one of his pastimes would be to scramble around the cliffs collecting seagull eggs, the reason being so that he could take them back and fry them up to help subsidise his meagre school rations.

I remember  him telling me once that during one of his school holidays he recalled hearing air raid sirens and then rushing up to Downhill, and watching a German plane get shot down and crashing, which he found very exciting – his mother, however, did not share his same view.

In 1945 he returned to Wycliffe for one term, before starting his working life at Townsends {a local feedstuffs and seed merchants) which was located in Stroud. lt has long since gone and the site is now occupied by the Tesco supermarket. In 1947, after a year at Townsends, King and Country called him up to do his National Service for two years. Initially he trained at Piddlehinton in Dorset where he did a 12-week driving course using a 5 tonne Bedford QL4x4 lorry and he received a pink slip driving license. After this he was deployed as a driver ironically in Tripoli (Libya) then via Egypt to Palestine. He recalled the Arabs selling oranges to the troops by day, then at night time being shot at by the very same Arabs – maybe he should have bought the damn oranges!

At the very end of 1949 he returned home having been discharged. As the bus wound its way slowly up the Slad Valley, he decided to disembark about three miles from the farm so he could take in the wonderful lush green countryside that had been totally lacking during his time in the Middle East. The very night he returned, a barn dance was held at nearby Bidfield Farm where he set eyes on Vi for the first time, though, other than a bounty of admiring glances nothing transpired.

He soon returned to work at Townsends as a traveller selling feeds and seeds to farmers around the Stroud Valleys. During this time, he made very many farming friends, a lot whom, or their descendants, are here today ­ apart that is from the ones who owed him money! One story he would recall was about the time the girls in the office played a trick on him. The next evening, he placed dead mice in several of their typewriters and never had trouble again.

About this time in his social life he joined the Stroud Young Farmers Club where he plucked up courage to ask Vi on their first date, a night out to the Ritz Cinema in Stroud. And she was taken there in style, on the back of his AJS motorcycle. When asked what film it was, he couldn’t recall (difficult to see from the back row).  The romance blossomed, and many a story was told, which I shall spare you all today but let’s just say there’s a certain gateway at Ebworth Farm that I will never look at in the same way again.

June 19th, 1954, a day that Jim very often recalled as the best day’s work he ever did was the day that Jim and Vi got married at the church in Sheepscombe village. The honeymoon was spent in Snowdonia and upon their return they moved into Lypiatt Lodge. It had no running water, no electricity and an outside loo to which Vi asked “we’re not going to live here are we ?” He bought the Lodge from Uria Godsell for the princely sum of £1200 (£600 of which had to be cash! Typical farmers!). At the time he could have also bought Lypiatt Park for a further £2000 but only earning £6 a week it might have been a bit of a stretch. However, a few years later in 1958 the park was bought by Lynne Chadwick and the family have remained good neighbours  with the Chadwick’s ever since.

On the 19th of April 1956 (a good nine months after the wedding) and on Jim’s birthday, Linda was born, and, two years later on, in May 1958, Ashley appeared. Four years further down the road in May 1962, Sally was born and that, they thought, was that.

The following years Jim began working all hours to begin building his dream, he and his brother in law, Jimmy Lines, went into partnership and bought a milk round at Blue Boys Dairy in Minchinhampton, he started a chicken farm at Lypiatt Lodge, expanded the beekeeping side of things and still had his full time job at Townsends. Vi would deliver eggs, look after three young children, cook and clean and try to keep Jim’s stress levels down to a manageable level.

He always told me he never liked working for other people, as you could never make your own decisions, so in June 1966 he took the plunge and went self-employed. After a busy and tiring few years,in the August of 1967 he took the family on a well-deserved holiday to Cornwall. And, nine months later, in May 1968, I was born. Proving that not all mistakes are bad mistakes.

During his many years of self-employment,he worked extremely hard. Not only did he have the milk round, he also kept chickens and bees. His typical day started at 5am and ended at dusk. He always made his children help with the many jobs but made sure we were paid for what we did. He also led an active social life- he was chairman of Stroud Y.F.C, Chairman of the Stroud Beekeepers Association and Captain of the Local Skittles Team- which Ashley and I are still involved in, though are still no good at.

Along the way he met and made many friends. He always yearned to return to farming and bought his first three acres off Norman Trinder in 1960,which is where the farm shop is now based. As time went on, he upped the acreage buying a field at a time. Around 1986, Ashley came home having worked for Prices at Frocester and Keith Holder. Keith also returned from Pershore college. About this time Reg and Rose Dickenson at Wayside Farm packed up their chicken farm and retail outfit- giving the three of us a kick-start in setting up the Farm Shop. During this period Jim dissolved the partnership he had with his brother in law in order to expand the bee-keeping enterprise and concentrate on the farm shop – which evolved in to what you see now.

In 1995, Jim was diagnosed with cancer of the Oesophagus, a life-threatening disease. Very few people survive the operation, and even less live beyond three years, but Jim showed his resilience and thanks to Professor Barr­, his surgeon, survived a further 23 years. From the time of the operation he took a back seat and told everyone that Ashley and I were in charge. Between you and me I’m not sure we were.

Up until the middle of last year Jim came to the Farm Shop every day without fail, maybe for just an hour but his presence was always felt – spotting every little mistake anyone made – no time for slacking! In his final weeks he maintained his interest in the Business and only gave up in his last few days. Happily, he passed away at Lypiatt Lodge with Mum by his side, his last wish.

Linda, Sally, Ashley and I are truly honoured and privileged to have had him as a Father.

Rest in Peace Dad.

Sixth Form Open Evening

Wednesday 25th September

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