After nearly 30 years at the heart of the Vale farming community, Virginia Stollery is preparing to retire from her role as group secretary of the Aylesbury branch of the National Farmers Union.
Virginia, 59, arrived in town as assistant group secretary in 1986 in a world quite different from the one she inhabits today.
She said: “It was unusual to be a woman in this job when I began. At first some of the older farmers were a bit reserved, as a woman then you had to be 110%.
“But I was lucky. I was talking to farmers about insurance, something that wasn’t their forte, so I was able to tell them what they needed to do to protect their business.
“And today, farmer’s wives go out to work, they are no longer in the kitchen producing food for the farm workers at lunchtime, so farmers are better able to cope with working women.”
Nationally the NFU has just elected it’s first female deputy president, and Virginia couldn’t be happier.
She said: “It’s a great thing to have our first female office holder. They do a lot of work in Europe and there are a lot of women in Brussels.”
There are two aspects to Virginia’s job, one is insurance led but the other is about organising NFU membership, reacting to agricultural issues, crisis and politics, and generally supporting the farmers in the Vale.
She said: “The farming side has always been more important to me than the insurance side. It’s my life, and I will remain very much a part of the farming community.”
Virginia officially retires in October, and intends to spend more time working with her horses and DIY livery yard in Whitchurch, going on walking trips, and enjoying more holidays abroad with her husband Ray who is also retired but helps out with Bucks County Show, as press officer.
Virginia will continue as secretary of the local committee of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Society, helping farmers who have fallen on hard times.