A Record- Breaking Recollection
Amazing achievements are what world records are all about, but often the stories and the people behind the staggering statistics are even more fascinating. Just as records are made — and broken — they can highlight, in the process, some incredible feats of endurance and astonishing examples of eccentricity. How many of you, though, have set, or been involved in a world record attempt?
Well, one of Evergreen’s readers, Nick Parsons, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, got in touch to tell us how he — together with his brother, Tom, and 11 other willing volunteers — made the headlines when they set a world record in the summer of 1982.
At the time, Nick was living in Birdlip, Gloucestershire, where he worked as an agricultural contractor and he decided to try to beat the world record for building the largest straw rick. Nick explains: “It was the result of a bet. One of my pals jokingly said that I couldn’t build a stack to surpass the existing record of 28,000 bales ( built in one season)”.
Nick’s original aim was to use 35,000 bales, but the team ended up using more than 40,400 bales. Their gigantic rick measured 150 feet long, 60 feet wide and 30 feet high!
Acknowledging the team who helped him earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, Nick says, “They were a wonderful bunch of country lads who worked for me in the 1970s and 1980s.” The participants hailed from the villages of Birdlip, Brimpsfield and Cranham and even though Nick emigrated
to Canada with his family in 1991, the record breakers all still keep in touch. “We did have a ‘ Rick Reunion’ in England in 2007 for the 25th Anniversary,” he says.
Among those who joined Nick and his brother Tom on the build were: Greg Parsons, Dan Patridge, Philip Kent, Nick Thomas, Simon Davies, Barny Davis, Steve Hannis, Robert Hannis, Peter Twinning, Martin Twinning and Brian Twinning.
Nick tells us: “We had a wonderful camaraderie in our team. I had known them all since very young. A better team of young farm workers I doubt ever existed. Without them the job was not possible. I did have a motto which I have practised through life — ‘ Half an effort is no better than no effort at all’ — and I believed this rubbed off on them.”
Apart from the build team, Nick also recalls the local farmers, including brothers Malcolm and John Whitaker, who supplied them with an extraordinary amount of straw for the challenge.
Building the rick took six weeks and 15,000 man hours. Nick explains: “We ricked in the first week or so 20,000 bales of barley straw, which got us off to a good start at the end of July. Next was the wheat straw harvest, which proved difficult with
very unsettled August weather, but by early September the job was finished.”
However, this wasn’t the only thing keeping the team busy. “Not only did we build the rick in that harvest period, we put under cover thousands of bales for our contracting customers which was an ongoing annual task,” says Nick.
But the mammoth rick wasn’t just about breaking records, it also raised £ 3,000 for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution in the process.
Looking back Nick remembers how the team were contacted by farmers from as far away as New Zealand about their endeavour. It was also a reminder of another era in farming — the days of real manual effort and hard work on the land. The record- breaking rick, built in the summer of 1982, was a splendid achievement that highlighted the skill, determination and teamwork of a fine group of lads from the Cotswolds. It has given them all a rich harvest of golden memories.
Above: Some of the team take a well- deserved break. Below: The building material!
The view from Birdlip in Gloucestershire.
The achievement caught the media’s attention.