A 78-year old Staffordshire man achieved one of his life’s ambitions when he took two John Deere tractors, spanning 50 years of production, for a spin at the company’s UK headquarters in Langar, Nottingham last month.“I’ve driven most things in my time but never a tractor of any description, and it has always been my dream to drive a John Deere,” says Tony Hales. Tony is a retired production director from Newcastle-under-Lyme who spent 50 years working in the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent, and he has been married to his wife Ann for 54 years.“I only ever wanted to be a farmer from when I was a small boy. I spent much of my childhood riding around with the son of a neighbour who owned three cattle lorries, visiting cattle marts and even abattoirs.“My father spent a lifetime at Wedgwood, and I never wanted to follow in his footsteps. However, when I was old enough to start work he said that farm labouring wouldn’t pay and I had to get a proper job, so I became a copper plate engraver by trade and ended up working for Spode and then Chatsworth Bathrooms for the next five decades.”Tony and his grandson James Ackerley, who thought of the idea, were invited to visit Langar by the company’s product marketing manager Mark James, who collects and restores vintage and classic John Deere tractors in his spare time. Mark arranged for Tony to drive a modern 6175R tractor and the UK branch’s pride and joy, a specially restored 4020 model (nicknamed BEV after its number plate) dating from 1966, when John Deere Limited first started trading from the same premises.Mark was initially contacted by Tony’s daughter Elizabeth Ackerley, who wrote: “My story is that my father has always had one wish and it is to drive an old fashioned John Deere tractor. I would love to make this dream come true for my dad. He has recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer and he is due to start some chemotherapy soon, but he still desperately wants to come.”“I’ve always wanted to drive a John Deere tractor, nothing else would do, although there were very few if any around in my youth – they were all Fordson Majors and Little Grey Fergies,” says Tony. “We’ve always talked about John Deeres in the family, and my grandson James bought me a scale Model L vintage tractor a few years ago as a present. For some reason I’ve always been attracted by the colour scheme – they mustn’t ever change it!“Driving the two tractors, it makes you realise just how things have moved on over the last 50 years. For comfort I preferred the modern tractor, obviously, but I should need six months to learn how to use all the electronics! It was also very noticeable how hard it was to change gear in the older model, but I really enjoyed driving them both, it was an absolute pleasure and definitely worth coming.“For a world-renowned company like John Deere to respond like this to my daughter’s request and be so helpful, it was really appreciated by the whole family. That’s a life’s ambition fulfilled, so I’m very happy.”The family has been invited back to Langar to take part in John Deere Limited’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which take place on the weekend of 24th & 25th September 2016. One hundred years of John Deere tractors will be represented at this special outdoor field show, which will also feature working demonstrations and displays, entertainment and activities for all the family. To register for this free event, visit the website at www.JohnDeere.co.uk/50years
The old and the new came together on the John Deere stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London last month, when a Chelsea Pensioner stopped to inspect a parade of the latest lawn tractors and mowers.The show is held every May in the grounds of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital, home to 300 former soldiers in the British Army. In their distinctive scarlet coats, the veterans take great delight in the annual invasion by the horticultural community.Chelsea Pensioners are among 157,000 visitors attending the five day show. Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family enjoyed their traditional preview visit before the show opened and this year saw many displays in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday.For the second year running the John Deere stand, designed by Henson Franklyn, received a Three Star Trade Stand Award from the show’s organisers, the Royal Horticultural Society. As well as an impressive display of machinery, the stand also celebrated the 50th anniversary of John Deere Limited in the UK and Ireland, which opened for business at Langar, Nottingham in 1966.The Royal Warrant was first awarded to John Deere Limited in 1970, for the supply of agricultural equipment to Her Majesty The Queen. Royal Warrants are a mark of recognition to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services for at least five years to certain members of the Royal Family.They have always been regarded as a mark of excellence and the highest standards of service and quality, and John Deere Limited is very proud to have held its Royal Warrant for all but the first four years of the company’s existence in the UK and Ireland.John Deere was granted an extension to its Royal Warrant in 2006, which now uniquely covers the supply of agricultural, groundscare & horticultural products to The Queen's Household.
A silage contractor in County Armagh has taken delivery of the very first John Deere 8800i self-propelled forage harvester to be sold in the UK and Ireland.Garth Cairns from Waringstown, who also runs the slurry machinery and trailer manufacturing company SlurryKat, received his top of the range forager in mid-April from local John Deere dealership Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd, based in Lisburn.Mr Cairns runs a large contracting fleet of 13 John Deere tractors and two John Deere self-propelled foragers. He ordered the new 8800i back in October 2015 in good time for this year’s silage season. The new forager replaced his 2010 model 7750, which was traded in showing 1850 hours on the clock.“We changed our 7750 as it was six years old and we were keen to upgrade to the latest technology from John Deere,” said Garth Cairns. “Farmers are under intense financial pressure, as are contractors, but there is no way we could increase our prices to help increase our own cashflow. With that in mind the only solution was to reduce our costs and by upgrading to this very latest 8800i we hope to achieve that.“The new forager is actually six inches narrower and higher than our previous model, making access to fields a bit easier. Other improvements that pushed us towards the 8800i were its higher capacity, the variable speed pick-up which runs independently of the feed rollers, and of course the bigger engine.“The 8800i is powered by a Cummins 19-litre 845hp engine, which does not require AdBlue to produce low emissions. The cab on the forager is also much more spacious and with that, visibility has been improved. Another efficiency improvement on this machine is the new knife sharpening system, which now only takes around two minutes compared to 10 or so on the older model.“To be honest, we did look at other brands before making this purchase, but in the end we came back to John Deere because of the back-up service we receive from our dealer Johnston Gilpin. That service is critical to an agricultural contractor and has a vital influence in the overall buying decision,” said Garth Cairns.Johnston Gilpin’s managing director Randal McConnell and sales director Robbie Hewitt were present when the new John Deere 8800i self-propelled forager was delivered to Mr Cairns. Randal McConnell added: “We are very pleased to have sold and delivered the first John Deere 8800i in the UK and Ireland to Garth Cairns, who is a very loyal customer and a good example of a progressive thinking one. He made the buying decision early on and ordered the machine last autumn, which gave both the factory and us plenty of time to manufacture and deliver it ahead of this year’s silage season.”Indeed, Johnston Gilpin has since sold a second John Deere 8800i to another Northern Ireland silage contractor, in the Ballynahinch area.