The extraordinary events of the last fifty years have caused traumatic upheaval in rural communities


  -  Experiences of 2001; emotional and financial impact
  -  Demographic Change; younger generation, new investors in rural property
  -  Literature; old lifestyle, old remedies, new novel

Experience of 2001                                                                                                 

Lawrence Alderson
received or made more than 1,000 telephone calls during the first 100 days of the 2001 FMD crisis in the UK. Although the outbreak of FMD in 2007 was more localised, its effect was intensified by the concurrent spread of Bluetongue to England, and it rekindled the terrible memories of 2001 when distressed owners of livestock in all parts of the country, often in a state of shock, were subjected to pschycological trauma from threats to cull their animals, and bureaucratic blackmail that denied them any option. They were isolated and bewildered, and needed strong support.

Lawrence Alderson gave support at any hour of day or night without charge or favour. He advised, or simply listened; he prepared valuations for slaughtered animals, or supported owners in arbitration disputes. He saved many animals, and comforted many owners. He witnessed at first-hand the devastating emotional effect on farmers whose slaughtered stock represented generations of family commitment, or those who became bankrupt because the restriction of movement legislation prevented the sale of their healthy stock. 

He made representations to Defra, worked with action groups (see, prepared papers and gave addresses in many places, including the House of Commons and the EAAP annual meeting in Hungary in 2001 (go to 'Papers and Articles' page for paper on FMD).

The experience had a profound and permanent effect on him, and gave him a clear and vivid realisation of the need for an ongoing counseling service to the rural community.

He now works in association with specialist companies, who offer a wide range of services including personal life management consultancy, individual guidence during major life events and executive mentoring and coaching services for CEOs and managers in the community service sector. 

Demographic Change                                                                                             

The demographics of the rural population has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Within the space of one decade (1991/2-2001/2) the number of employees on farms and estates the the UK declined by 25%, and many of the younger generation are unable to afford housing in their native locality. Their places have been taken by owners of second homes, who often contribute little to the rural community. The change has undermined rural infrastructure just as certainly the closure of small speciality retailers (butchers, bakers, grocers, etc), village schools and post offices, and small abattoirs. A successful campaign was fought to slow down the closure of butchers and abattoirs, but the unavailability of rural homes at affordable prices is an even greater problem. 

On the other hand, a new group in the countryside are successful business people who invest in country properties and sometimes bring a new vigour to farming and rural life. Their priorities are different, they question established practices, and can bring new perspectives to bear on old problems. They may be attracted by native local or endangered breeds, or by more traditional methods. Farming is a new business to them, requiring new skills and new knowledge. Our consultancy service (go to 'White Park' and 'Consultancy' pages) provides advice and support.


Lifestyle 50 years ago - The pace of rural life has changed in the last 50 years. Lawrence Alderson was born on a Yorkshire Dales farm with a tin bath in front of the kitchen range and an earth closet at the bottom of the farmyard, without electricity or telephone, and where horses provided all the draught power. The spirit of that lifestyle is entrancingly described in books such as 'Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales' (Hartley & Ingilby), and the local dialect is captured in the 'Yorkshire Dialect Poems' of Ruth Dent. 

A New Novel - Lawrence Alderson's first venture into fiction was published in May 2009. 'A Pennine Dynasty' is based on a Yorkshire Dales family in the twentieth century. It captures the changing way of life from the mid-twentieth century to the early years of the present century, and includes the impact of the FMD 2001 outbreak on a rural community. In a no-holds-barred portrayal of the contrasting life paths of two brothers, this novel does not shrink from the exposure of both the murky currents that flow under the seemingly respectable surface of rural life, and the wider swell of political and social abuses that continue to undermine society. Published by Hayloft Publishing Ltd ( )

Old remedies - Lawrence Alderson's grandfather was a noted 'unqualified' homeopathic animal healer. Many of his remedies are recorded in well-worn notebooks, but some of his more eccentric treatments remain only in his grandson's memory. A standard 'textbook' at that time was 'The Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine' (3rd edition) by Edward H Ruddock, published in 1878. Herbal remedies were popular also in human medicine, but some need to be treated with caution. An entry in the 17th edition of Fox's 'The Model Botanic Guide to Health' (published 1904) reads: "RAGWORT - Senecio Jacobea. This plant is excellent as a wash for rinsing sore and ulcerated mouths. It should be often applied". Ragwort is poisonous, and no one should follow such dangerous advice.