A PIONEERING farmer who was one of the first to offer city children a taste of country life has died.

John Orman showed children from schools in Waltham Forest how to milk cows on Southend Farm in Waltham Abbey and introduced them to the other animals, including a retired Shire horse, llamas and a biting billy goat.

His widow, Barbara Orman, 82, said: “Some of them had never seen a cow or a sheep before.

“He loved children and got on extremely well with them. He was a very charismatic and very strict teacher.”

The trips were set up by Waltham Forest Education Committee in the 1960s as a way of showing children behind the scenes of an industry many had no knowledge of.

“There was a billy goat everybody screamed about because he used to bite them,” said Mrs Orman.

“We also had a beautiful Shire horse, Sovereign, who came from a brewery in London.”

Mr Orman had worked on the farm as a teenager before eventually buying it in the 1960s.

His love for animals went back to his childhood when he persuaded his mother to let him keep a pet monkey at their home in Chingford.

His school friend, Dennis Chasney, 85, said: “His mother was very understanding and he asked for a monkey, so he got one.

“It would escape onto the roof, but when his mother told it to come down it would. He was quite a character.”

Mr Orman's days of keeping dairy cattle and teaching children came to an end when the M25 was built less than a quarter of a mile from the farm in Southend Lane in the 1980s.

“You couldn’t hear yourself think,” said Mrs Orman. “We lost a lot of land we used to rent from the other side and we had to sell the cows.”

The farm was converted to a livery yard for horses, a fishing lake and boarding kennels and is still managed by Mrs Orman.

Mr Orman died of pneumonia on April 17 aged 88. A celebration of his life will be held at the Woodland Burial Park in North Weald from 1.30pm on Thursday (May 3).

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