THE Prince of Wales visited Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park on July 1 to highlight the important work of RBST-accredited farm parks in the survival of British rare breeds, and to encourage visitors to return to farm parks when they re-open.
Having been closed for months, farm parks have lost visitor income while still meeting the usual costs of housing, feeding and caring for their animals.
Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is the national charity that works to secure the future of rare breed livestock and equines, and the Prince of Wales has been its patron since 1986. Cotswold Farm Park is one of the 21 RBST accredited farm parks which look after some of the UK’s most rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals.
What became the first RBST accredited farm park was opened in 1971 at Cotswold Farm Park by Joe Henson, MBE (Adam Henson’s father). Joe had seen the rapid intensification of farming following the end of WW2 and many rare and native breeds of farm animals were lost in favour of faster growing, more productive continental breeds. He began collecting rare breeds to prevent them from extinction, and the opening of the Farm Park went some way to contributing towards the cost of keeping these animals.
Joe went on to be a founding member of RBST in 1973 to protect rare breeds from becoming extinct. Since the RBST was founded, no British rare breeds have been lost.
Adam Henson, Cotswold Farm Park, said:“It was a great honour to welcome the Prince of Wales to Cotswold Farm Park before we re-opened to the public on 4th July. His Royal Highness is incredibly knowledgeable about farming, food production and rural tourism. He voiced his encouragement that multi generational families should get back out into the fresh air to enjoy everything that the countryside brings. He was particularly impressed by our campsite and new sunset lodges and the importance of staycations to rural businesses.”
Christopher Price, Chief Executive of Rare Breeds Survival Trust, said: “The 21 RBST-accredited farm parks look after some of our rarest native breeds and are vital to ensuring their survival for the future. They all participate in crucial conservation breeding programmes as well as promoting the benefits of native breeds.
“The coming few months are going to be very difficult for farm parks and as they make plans to reopen safely we can all support them and the conservation of rare breeds by visiting as soon as we can and going back regularly throughout the year to watch the animals change and grow.
“I am grateful to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for all his support for the survival of rare breed livestock and equines, and I thank Adam Henson and Cotswold Farm Park for hosting the visit today.”