By George he’s done it — only one day off in 50 years for man of the land
“Pulling a sickie” is what used to be called “skiving” — but George Neeve doesn’t do either.
In 50 years of working on the Gawdy Hall estate near Harleston, he has, remarkably, missed only one day through illness when he was so sick he couldn’t even walk to his job. But he was back at work the next day.
And before he started his long life on the land at the age of 15, he was not absent once in four years at what was then Long Stratton Secondary Modern School, even though he had to cycle four miles there and back every day.
Mr Neeve’s record will be recognised at next’s week’s Royal Norfolk Show when he is presented with a long service medal for services to agriculture. Now 65, Mr Neeve says he has “no thoughts” of retiring and hopes to go on for at least another five years. “It must be a job that keeps you healthy. I feel I am up for any challenge.”
His boss, Gawdy Hall managing director David Green, said: “George is George. He is unique. We have had people here with 40 or 45 years before but not 50. Youngsters today do maybe four or five years and then move on.”
Mr Neeve always knew he wanted to spend his life on the land, He helped on his father’s small farm but there was not enough work for two and after leaving school he telephoned Gawdy Hall and got himself a job starting, he remembered, on July 11, 1966.
It must be a job that keeps you healthy. I feel I am up for any challenge
He first began driving on a tractor like the Super Dexta he has at his Redenhall home - “it’s a dinky standing next to the John Deere I drive now,” he said - and graduated to driving a pea viner and combine harvester as he turned his hand to every job. In 1987 he passed his HGV test and a winter occupation is carting sugar beet to the processing factory.
“I just love everything about working on the land. The weather doesn’t bother me. The governor says he doesn’t know what he has got to do to make me stop at home.”