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Miniature tractor run surprise for Ripon care resident

Sycamore Hall Care Home surprised 76-year-old Brian Pickering.

A tractor collector, enthusiast, and former club chairman was the honoured recipient of a tractor run by his Ripon care home.

More than a half a dozen vintage machines trundled past Sycamore Hall Care Home, on Kearsley Road, in honour of 76-year-old resident Brian Pickering.

Brian was chairman of the Yorkshire Chapter of The Ferguson Club, which celebrates the work of the late engineer Harry Ferguson, who designed and developed more than a dozen tractor models as well as aviation and motor vehicles.

Brian and his wife Jo were also committee members of the West Yorkshire branch of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club (NVTEC).

The couple acquired and restored four vintage tractors over the years, with Brian’s first being a “Little Grey Fergie”, an iconic Ferguson TE-20, with which they attended numerous vintage tractor rallies and steam rallies around the country.

More than one Little Grey Fergie was among the tractors at Sycamore Hall Care Home, when Brian was joined by almost a dozen fellow residents, some of whom used to drive similar machines themselves.

Brian said:

“What a surprise. I am absolutely over the moon. You've made my day.

"There were 7 tractors chugging up the drive. It was great.  

“Roy, one of the drivers, is still involved in the club and it was great to talk to him again.

"It was wonderful to stand outside on a beautiful afternoon and talk tractors.”

Jean Hawksworth, 99, who was a lifelong farmer, said:

“What I don't know about tractors isn't worth knowing. Get me out there now.”

Geoff Gudgeon, 85, said:

“One of the tractors is the same as I used to drive when I worked at the Knavesmire in York.”

Richard Colley, 81, added:

“I used to drive a Massey Ferguson 315 on the farm. It’s lovely to see one of them again.”

Brian’s interest in tractors began when he was a boy, as his father worked on a farm and eventually bought himself a small holding in 1959.

However, in 1963, Brian’s father died at the age of 43, when Brian was 15 years of age, with no way of passing the farm tenancy to his son.

Brian helped on his uncle’s farm for a few months and then took an apprenticeship at Glovers of Ripon, a supplier of agricultural machinery and equipment, including tractors.

He completed a City and Guilds course to become a fully qualified agricultural engineer and eventually moved from Glovers to Appleyards of Ripon, another agricultural machinery business.

He later left to start his own agricultural engineering company and spent the next 40 years working as a mobile engineer, travelling around dozens of farms in North Yorkshire repairing tractors, combine harvesters, balers and all kinds of farm machinery.

Jill Scaife, the activities coordinator at Sycamore Hall Care Home, where Brian moved in March 2024, recognised the Ferguson Club sweatshirt he was wearing one day and asked him about it, when he spoke of being chairman of the club.

She said:

“At Sycamore Hall, we’re always trying to make a difference in residents’ lives, so when I learned about Brian’s love of tractors I knew I had to do something special.

"Also, many of our residents are from the rural and farming community and I knew they would enjoy seeing the vintage tractors too.

“I spoke with my neighbour, who is a member of NVTEC, and he knew of Brian and how he was a highly respected member of the club. I asked if they would do a tractor run to Sycamore Hall and they agreed.

“It was so kind of the NVTEC members to come and visit Brian and the residents, as they have tractor runs booked all through the summer.

“Some of the men from the club recognised Brian and it was wonderful for him to reminisce about the old days and catch up on news from the tractor club. Brian still receives the newsletters from the club and loves to read the latest.”

Mark Nicholson, chairman of the West Yorkshire Group of the NVTEC, said:

“Brian is a very supportive, respected and popular member of the West Yorkshire Group of the NVTEC and, as a huge supporter of Tractorfest, at Newby Hall, he has been very active in helping to make that show the enormous success it is today.

“Members wanted to show their support for Brian by visiting him on their tractors.  

"He really enjoyed the visit.”

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