Cameron Naughton with his wife Muriel, rents 800 acres from the Crown Estate in Wiltshire. They have 500 outdoor sows on a three-week batch production system. Weaners are liquid-fed to bacon weight in straw yards and then sold through Thames Valley Cambac
As Muriel may have previously mentioned, I’ve done many stupid things, but jumping out of a perfectly good plane while dressed in a pig onesie is probably fairly high up the list.
On the flight up a number of things came to mind, including the doctor’s words: “You’re 52, you’re asthmatic, you’ve previously dislocated your shoulder, had operations on both knees and have pins in both feet, but I will sign your medical certificate so long as you don’t blame me if it goes wrong!”
On a more positive note, I was sponsored by the vicar and the undertaker with the promise of a reduced-price funeral service if the outcome were to be unhappy. Furthermore, the Ancient Auctioneer promised to reduce his commission in the event of a forced sale. The NFU Mutual office sponsored me, but refused to insure me! So, I felt everything was reasonably covered apart from vegan son and teenage daughter reminding me that: “Mum will be furious if you cripple yourself!”
Then the door opened and the man I was attached to decided to fall out, leaving me with no option but to join him. As we hurtled towards earth the words of the late, great Barry Sheene sprang to mind – but Muriel says they’re not suitable for you, gentle reader, so you will have to look them up yourself!
Suddenly after 5,000 feet and 30 seconds of travelling at 125mph, the parachute snapped open and we shot up like a pink pig on a bungee, before starting a gradual descent towards the drop zone. At this point my travel sickness tried to spoil the day, but we made it down in one piece, with the landing being considerably less bumpy than the bales I had been using to practise jumping off.
It was a special day made better by the attendance of baby Jack’s parents, Gary and Chrissie, brother Harry and Grandma Sandra. I was also touched by the support of vegan son and teenage daughter, who were able to report to Muriel that “The old fool is in one piece”.
Obviously, the major reason for doing the jump was to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital in memory of baby Jack, who died aged 12 days last August.
Ours is a family farm and our staff and their dedication to looking after the pigs are key to our business survival. When one member of staff is hurting, it affects everyone. Judging by the overwhelmingly generous support from the industry that is a sentiment echoed by so many, so thank you for your support and prayers.
It also proves that everyone loves an idiot in a pig onesie – not only did I feature in the local paper and on Radio Wiltshire, I also had a letter of congratulation from our MP. This gave me the opportunity to fire a thank-you letter back to her, highlighting our concerns on African swine fever and other challenges facing the pig industry at the moment.
Flying pigs sometimes have their uses!