A LOCAL farmer left his sheep to fend for themselves for a day while he went to Windsor to collect his OBE last month.
As part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2012, John Bishop now offcially has three letters after his name.
Farmer John was awarded the OBE – the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – for services to agriculture and the community in Berkshire.
John heard the news in April, but had to hold his tongue until the Queen’s birthday, in June.
He explained that, as a Christian, there was “a lot of inner searching”.
He added: “You wonder if you’re worthy. You do think ‘well, why me?’”
Before the announcement, John says that his work is done expecting no reward. “You’re not doing it to get rich. If you’re doing Kingdom work, you’re not expecting rewards or recognition,” he said.
Rushall Farm has been under the care of John and his wife, Lindsay, for 39 years. In the early 80s they set up the John Simonds Trust for Education in the Countryside to encourage young people to develop a love and understanding of the countryside, and to forge stronger links between town and country.
John explains that the trust has “naturally grown” over the years, and this year alone the farm has had over 12,000 visits from children, as well as
camping trips with schools, churches and organisations including scouts and Duke of Edinburgh Awards students.
Special events, such as a Christmas Eve service and lambing Open Days with the Reading MS Society are also held.
On Friday, October 12, John travelled to Windsor Castle to collect his honour.
He said: “It was one of the few days this autumn that the sun shone. [My wife] Lindsay and I and two of our daughters Elisabeth and Nicki had a wonderful experience.
“We all dressed up really smart and then had a big family celebration back here in Bradfield.”
Prince Charles conducted the award ceremony and said to John “that he hoped the OBE would be an encouragement to carry on the valuable work we are doing from our base at Rushall Farm”.