Richard Hazell has been Chair of WWOOF UK’s governing Council for many years and will be standing down at our formal AGM during the Members Weekend in October. The current Council and staff team are all immensely grateful for his wonderful commitment and generous sharing of his professional knowledge as a solicitor during his tenure. We asked him to share some recollections of his time with WWOOF.
In the early 70s I spent time on a kibbutz and reading the Whole Earth Catalog and became interested in all things alternative, so I was fascinated to read the seminal Sunday Times article on WWOOF in 1976 and found myself hitchhiking down the M4 to Lower Shaw Farm and to Malmesbury and to Garway Hill to learn more about ’the good life’.
I learnt how to make seven loaves at a time, to plait onions and to get cramp whilst meditating. Also I spent time raking dead grass on a cold frosty morning and wondered why I was there, but the cycle ride in the dark down the snowy lane made it all worthwhile.
Somehow I became involved in the running of WWOOF early on and I have wonderful memories of sitting round the kitchen table at 19 Bradford Road with Don and Maureen (Pynches) and David Holman discussing the details of the newsletter and Fix-It-Yourself list. I became the media person (!) and then somehow got involved in arranging the Organisers’ and Annual General Meetings.
In the early 80s Sue Coppard got sued by an unhappy printer and so I helped WWOOF to become a company limited by guarantee and some years later we became a charity.
I have been a director of WWOOF for many years and have steered it round a lot of tight bends on the way, but it has grown and moved on all the time to become the wonderful organisation that it is today. I am very proud of its many achievements, particularly the fact that there is now good international co-operation in many ways across the European WWOOF bodies. Long may this continue!