This week has been unbelievable. The support has been fantastic from so manyright across the country. There have been too many volunteers to mention over the last two years, but Ben and I would like to make a special thank you to our Project Manager, Sophie people Hopkins (also age 24), who has worked through the night with Charlotte to ensure this project succeeds. The press always concentrate on Ben and myself, but Sophie has played just as big a part as we have and I wanted to ensure she gets the credit she deserves - it is not exaggerating to say that we could NOT have done it without her invaluable help.
This project to save Fordhall Farm started two years ago, when our family were faced with eviction back in 2004. Ben and I decided then that we would fight to try and save the farm. We had a vision to involve people and we wanted to use the asset of the farm, which had been chemical free for so long, for education.
At a pinnacle community meeting in February 2005, the structure was formulated and we met Sophie Hopkins. She had just returned from travelling and had some spare time so she offered her services as a volunteer. I rang her later that day to take her up on the offer.
Ever since Sophie has been at Fordhall. She worked for 9 months as a volunteer helping to manage and coordinate volunteers with myself, and later we were able to find funding through the Leader Plus programme for her to stay with us full time. She was a key part in organising our launch in September 2005 and she was always at hand to write leaflets and articles.
Having just graduated herself, she came to Fordhall with a fresh outlook and an enthusiastic energy to make this innovative community project succeed.
After finding funding for her to stay with us until at least October this year, Sophie has been in charge of our Newsletter, volunteers and helping to organise shares in the office. Her organisation has enabled this campaign to move forward and contained my impatience to do everything at once! We could not have achieved anywhere near as much in this campaign without volunteers, but similarlary if we didnt have Sophie to organise the volunteers then it would have been nothing short of chaos.
Most recently, Sophie has moved into Fordhall. It seemed silly to leave the farm at 2am only to return at 8.30am the next morning everyday. She has slept on my bedroom floor for the last month. For someone not related to the farm and having known nothing of it before last year, she has shown more committment and dedication than anyone.
Both Ben and I would like to thank Sophie for her dedication, her enthusiasm, her energy and her organisation, and we hope that she stays with Fordhall for a good while to come - plus she takes great photos!