Follow your dreams: farmer who is flying solo from London to Cape Town in plane he built himself
PUBLISHED: 09:05 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:05 04 November 2019
As the centenary anniversary approaches of the first flight from London to Cape Town, third-generation Suffolk and Norfolk Farmer, Giles Abrey will tomorrow embark on a lifetime ambition. He will be taking to the skies, visiting 13 countries, in a home-built aircraft G-GAST, flying 7,200 miles on an epic 5-week Solo Charity Flight from London to Cape Town, which has been 12 years in the making. He tells Gina Long MBE how he was inspired by the courage of the 1930s aviators.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
My grandfather started farming in Suffolk in 1939, the business grew from there. We now operate in both Norfolk and Suffolk specialising in root vegetable production and combinable crops. As part of the third generation, I work with my two cousins, my father and two uncles. We are fortunate to have a great team around us and a good relationship with our farming partners. I am proud to be part of the Abrey's team and am looking forward to the fourth generation getting involved.
What is your East Anglian Heaven ie what do you love most about East Anglia?
Early morning walks in the countryside at the beginning of Spring & Autumn.
What is your East Anglian Hell ie what you hate most about living here?
Traffic, it seems to be getting worse.
What's your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
The Codfather in Sudbury, The Victoria Inn, Holkham and frankly when it comes to eating out in East Anglian we are fortunately spoilt for choice.
What's your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
Walking on Sudbury water meadows with my wife Jo, children Joshua & Kitty and our 2 dogs Zula and Bella, followed by board games and a drink at the Mill Hotel.
What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?
After a long water crossing, having flown in from Europe, it is always reassuring to see the Port of Felixstowe.
What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
The School Farm and country fair at Trinity Park Ipswich. It's a great annual event that Abrey's and Euston estate proudly support. Next year it takes place April 23. Thousands of school children attend, taking part in activities designed to educate children on the importance of agriculture in Suffolk and the role of farming in providing food to our tables and the protection of wildlife.
What is your specialist Mastermind subject?
Now that's an easy one. 1930s Aviators - Victor Smith, Alex Henshaw, Amy Johnson et al.
What is always in your fridge?
Not so many years ago I would have said chocolate, but with two young children chocolate is scarce, so I would say olives, hummus and a great bottle of wine.
What's your simple philosophy of life?
Nothing is impossible, it just depends how much you want it, self-doubt kills dreams rather than ability. Ask yourself "Am I dreaming big enough!"
What's your favourite film?
The Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright.
What was your first job?
Grape picking in Mildura, Australia.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wife and children.
Who do you admire most?
Positive people, especially those that stay strong despite adversity, whether its related to health issues, business or day-to-day living.
What is your biggest indulgence?
You may also want to watch:
Fish and Chips.
What do you like about yourself most?
I am driven to be the best I can be and encourage others to be the same.
What's your worst character trait?
I try to do too much and I'm a bit OCD.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere in Africa. I love the big open spaces, the animals, the different cultures, too long to list.
Best day of your life?
Marrying my wife Jo, and the birth of our children.
What's your favourite breakfast?
Most mornings I have porridge and fruit, but it just isn't the same as a bacon buttie and cup of coffee.
What's your favourite tipple?
Calvors larger brewed by the Williamson family at Crowfield. Why is it not sold everywhere?
What's your hidden talent?
Cooking, it probably isn't a talent but I really enjoy it.
When were you most embarrassed?
I was dared to sing Kylie Minogue around McDonalds after a rugby match, what a sight!
What's your earliest memory?
Holidays in Cornwall with my mum, dad and sister.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Can't Stop - Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Tell us something people don't know about you?
I did a skydiving course at Parakai, New Zealand when I was 17. One of the jumps didn't go to plan and I had to pull my reserve which although an addictive sport made me question whether I had the head for it. It was this experience that got me in to flying, which I started the following year.
What's the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
That a close family member had been diagnosed with cancer.
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?
As a farmer from Suffolk and Norfolk, I couldn't think of a better place to farm and call home.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
In the footsteps of the early aviators, Alex Henshaw who was from Newmarket and Victor Smith. I am attempting to fly solo from London to Cape Town. With my route being: England, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In an aircraft that has taken Stephen Tortice, a great team and me five years to painstakingly build. A big part of my trip is to raise money for three charities that resonate with me: The Institute for Cancer research, Farm Africa and Gee Wizz (who's funds will be going to support Hillside special school in Sudbury). I am self-funding the trip, all proceeds from my main sponsors who I owe enormous thanks to: Hutchinson's & Ben Burgess and supporting sponsors: Abreys, Omex and Bateman, along with all other proceeds will be going to my chosen charities.
If you would like to consider donating and follow my adventure please visit: www.adventures4charity.com
To follow Gina Long @geewizzgee1. To be considered for being featured in Gina's Q & A Email: gina@ hallfarmfornham.com