North Walsham

North Norfolk farmer tells all in new book

Just Regional
Jun 4, 2015 3 mins read

One of Norfolk’s best-known dairy farmers has recorded his life story in a new autobiography.

Across almost 200 pages, illustrated with photographs spanning nine decades, Gavin Paterson reflects on a fascinating life as his family established one of the finest pedigree cattle herds in the country.

Entitled Breeding Success: My life as a Norfolk Farmer, the book is also an historical document, telling the story of how Scottish families came down to East Anglia in the 1920s and 1930s and transformed dairy farming in the region.

Written in collaboration with award-winning journalist and author Mark Nicholls, it documents how the Paterson family went on to enjoy enormous success at cattle shows – including the Royal Norfolk Show – with their pedigree Friesian (and later Holstein) cattle, over more than 60 years.

That began in 1952 when Gavin Paterson, now 85, visited the London Dairy Show at Olympia, remarking to his father James Paterson on his return, “we have cows in that shed…that are just as good as those which performed well at the Dairy Show.”

With head herdsman George Clare, Mr Paterson prepared a cow named Smallburgh Brenda for the 1953 event and much to everyone’s surprise, she was named Supreme Champion.

From then on, the Paterson herds enjoyed near-unrivalled success at such events, with Mr Paterson becoming a well-known figure in dairy farming circles at local, regional and national level, including serving as President of the Holstein Society.

In addition to the milk production side of the Paterson farming operation, the book examines arable farming over their four farms on the Worstead estate in east Norfolk – which the family now owns – from the horse era through to the labour-saving mechanisation of today.

However, Breeding Success also details other important elements of Mr Paterson’s life; his role with Young Farmers’ Clubs in Norfolk; work as a local councillor; and the role he played in establishing Worsted Festival and seeing it become one of the most popular summer events of the Norfolk calendar.

Originally intended to fund repairs to Worstead Church tower, since the mid-1960s it has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds and also donated funds to other Worstead community projects – including the building of a new Worstead Village Hall opened by the Queen Mother in 1985 – and neighbouring worthy causes.

Mr Paterson was also a director of Norwich City Football Club from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s and as a life vice-president, is still a regular at home matches.Breeding_success_paperback_wrap_130415.indd

Breeding Success: My Life as a Norfolk Farmer is available in hardback or paperback from bookshops across East Anglia and will also be on sale at the Worstead Festival at the end of July. It is available online from and from Mr Paterson at Church Farm, Smallburgh, Norfolk, tel 01692 536226.

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