Monday, November 19, 2012
He has entertained audiences around the world with his broad accent and witty Norfolk anecdotes for more than 20 years.
But 66-year-old Winston Harrold - affectionately known as the Singing Farmer - who was born at Corpusty, near Reepham, is hanging up his guitar to return to farming.
The second generation farmer, who owns Nethergate Farm in Guestwick, near Dereham, admits he will miss the “buzz” of being on stage.
Audience favourites included Charlie’s Old Tractor - about being stuck behind farm machinery on Norfolk roads - and The Old North Walsham Line, in which he imitates a train with a mouth organ.
Winston, who once backed the Wurzels at a steam rally near Cambridge, said: “When I’m performing I get plenty of energy from the audience. I get a buzz. On the best gigs I get shivers running up and down my spine. I enjoyed it but I won’t miss the driving.”
But despite giving up touring and gigging he said he hopes to pick up his acoustic guitar again in the future.
Winston said: “Over the years whilst I have been on the road my farm seems to have become a retirement home for rabbits, pigeons, slugs, badgers, brambles, fly tippers, dogs and horses.
“Now with even more EU regulations being imposed on my farm, especially the environmental information I have to supply, my desk looks like the London Stock Exchange than the hub of a busy farm.
“It seems that I need eight days a week full-time to keep up with it all. So the time has come when I have to turn my attention back to my roots.”
Nethergate Farm was bought by his late father Geoffrey in the 1950s and Winston took over the running of it in the 1960s when he was 21.
When he was a teenager, Winston wanted to become a lead guitarist in a group like Hank Marvin and The Shadows.
“I’m not a lead guitarist and it took years to find that out. I used to play along to Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley when I was a teenager. I used to play tunes on the guitar until I was blue on the face,” he added.
But When Winston met Sheringham music teacher Tim Jefferson, aged 40, he discovered his singing voice.
The farmer, who has three children and two grandchildren, never learned to read music.
Winston said: “I don’t see anything. I just hear it. They tried to teach me at school but I couldn’t read the dots.”
Across Norfolk, he has performed at the Royal Norfolk Show, Wymondham Folk Club, Queens Hall in Watton, the King’s Lynn Arts Centre, Sheringham Little Theatre and Cromer Pier.
He has also performed at numerous steam rallies and county shows across Britain.
Winston even played his songs in Californian folk clubs, the Calgary Stampede in Canada and the Tamworth Country Music Festival in Australia where he met the late Australian singer-songwriter David Kirkpatrick AO MBE, known as Slim Dusty, who sang the country classic Waltzing Matilda.
He added he was mainly booked for gigs out of Norfolk because of his accent.
Winston said: “I will miss the cards, letters, thoughts and anecdotes the audience shares with me long after I have left their neighbourhood. I’ve met some fantastic people and made many good friends over the years, and those memories will stay with me forever.”
His songs were mainly written by East Anglian songwriters and he made six albums.