'Smiling, supportive' Lesley from Chewton Keynsham is Farm Woman of the Year

Published on: 10 Jun 2015

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A woman who took on the running of the family farm after her husband fell ill, plays a key role in her community and is a familiar face at Keynsham Farmers' Market has been celebrated at the Royal Bath & West Show.

Lesley Bowes, of Chewton Farm, has been named Farm Woman of the Year after no less than 17 people wrote to the judges to tell them how much of a difference she makes in Chewton Keynsham and beyond.

Alongside caring for her husband and tending the farm’s Aberdeen Angus herd, Lesley also mows the grass at Queen Charlton Church and Village Hall, looks after the village green in Burnett and helps many residents in the surrounding villages maintain their gardens.

“Lesley is a compassionate, caring, supportive friend to all.  If someone is in need or something needs doing, Lesley is the first person to volunteer her help,” one Chewton Keynsham resident wrote, adding: “Chewton Keynsham is proud of its smiling, famous farmer.”

On Friday, May 29, Lesley's contribution to farming and the community was recognised when she received a crystal rose bowl as well as a meal for two at Ston Easton Hotel.

Joint judge Lady Fellowes, who is president of the Royal Bath & West Society and story editor for Downton Abbey, said: “Lesley is just an extraordinary woman. I was really moved. She is kind, generous, caring and selfless in the community.

"She and her husband started the farm from scratch and since he fell ill she has taken on the farm work and personal care. She was described as the heart of the village – I just don’t know how she finds the time.”

Lesley, a mother of two, said she was “stunned” when she realised she was the person the judges were describing as they made the presentation at the Bath & West Showground.

She said: “I’m very touched. I'm just an ordinary person. I feel that community is very important, I’ve been supported by the community and I hope I can give something back by supporting others.

“Someone once said about the farm that it’s the hub of the village and lots of villages have lost that. To have industry, albeit small, at the heart of it makes it more of a living village.”

She said farming could be a hard way of life but it was “in her blood” and she loved to see people enjoying the countryside as they walked on the popular route across her farm from Keynsham to Compton Dando.

“At weekends there are more people than animals on the farm,” she said. “I feel it’s a privilege and an honour to be able to live and work in the countryside. I feel so lucky to have the farm and to share it as well.”

Launched last year, the Farm Woman of the Year Award aims to recognise the often unsung heroines of the farming world.

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