Your Good Lives A family enterprise
Ben and Angelina Watson were determined to help her widowed mother stay on at her smallholding – so they moved in. Debbie Kingsley listened to their story.
A ngelina Watson grew up on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent where her mum Janet had a fish and chip shop. Her stepfather kept a few sheep nearby and in the late ’90s they moved west to a smallholding in Devon to make a home together. Ben, Angelina and their children lived fairly close to Janet, in the nearby town of Tavistock, where they kept a few chickens and grew vegetables in the back garden, but they had no direct experience of smallholding.
Angelina picks up the story: “When my stepdad died, my mum sold all of the sheep and pigs on her smallholding, but was really sad not to have any animals on the farm, and didn’t want to be there on her own. So we decided to extend her home to accommodate us all, while Mum would move into an annexe and we could all live a more self sufficient lifestyle.”
This sounds easier than it was. First of all, the annexe didn’t exist. Over the past year Ben has built a smart twostorey annexe mostly on his own but with occasional and much appreciated help from family and friends. At the beginning of 2016 Ben is about to fit the kitchen and then move onto the new bathroom, and they can finally see an end in sight. Angelina and Ben have four children: Hannah, 16, Elena, 11, and six-year-old twins Daniel and Katie, so they really need the extra space and Janet is looking forward to having her own home again. Meanwhile, Ben’s own engineering business has been on hold while he’s been building – he’s as keen as anyone to get finished and for them all to move on with their plans.
Hannah Watson, 16, with one of the lambs