A Record- Breaking Rec­ol­lec­tion

Evergreen - - Summer 2018 - AN­GE­LINE WIL­COX

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.

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