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Ever since he was a young lad growing up in Herefordshire, where he was born in 1936, Dick Prosser wanted to go into farming. He had a great love of animals, and enjoyed the countryside and changing seasons as he rode his bike along the foothills of the Black Mountains, from the hamlet of Clodock, where his father ran the Comewall Arms pub, to the grammar school in Abergavenny, 10 miles away in Wales. Sadly, like many other farmers today, his chosen occupation has not turned out to be what he had hoped for.
Renting a further 40 acres, he now has about 300 ewes and 35 cattle most years. A parish councillor for 30 years, he is not as active as he used to be. After suffering from angina for 10 years, he had a triple bypass heart operation in 1997, and now gets around his land on an all-terrain vehicle, which is ‘like two motorbikes stuck together.’
Dick explains: 'We were making ends meet when the BSE emergency came along in 1995 and everything changed overnight. I’m lucky to get £200 for cattle, which used to fetch up to £400 each. And it’s not just cattle, but sheep as well. A fat lamb that once fetched £50 is as low as £20, and the price I get for wool scarcely covers the cost of shearing. I haven’t made any money for years. Things are grim for farmers like me. I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, I can’t even find the bloody tunnel.'
oil on board
H 72 x W 98 cm
on loan from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters