IT’S not every day that you’re likely to get an international rugby player turning up to judge a tractor competition – but then not many international rugby players are Dan Lydiate.
The Wales and Lions star hails from the wild and untamed hills of Radnorshire and, despite having travelled the globe playing the game he loves, he may just love farming and where he comes from that little bit more.
The 33-year-old Ospreys flanker now lives in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, close to Swansea so he can attend Ospreys training. But in his spare time you can still find him back on the family farm in Abbeycwmhir, near Llandrindod Wells, tending to his Llaithddu herd of Welsh Blacks cattle.
And he was back on home soil earlier this month after being asked to judge and hand out awards at the annual Dolau Tractor Run.
The event, held on Sunday, May 16, attracted a huge convoy of tractors – both modern and classics – as well as entrants, while this year’s event held even more significance. Not only was it a welcome return to hosting public events in Powys as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease, but proceeds from the event are also going to help towards the campaign to keep Dolau’s Llanfihangel Rhydithon Community Primary School open, in the face of proposals to close it by the county council.
Nigel Bufton, chairman of the Dolau school governing body, said: “It was truly amazing to see the overwhelming support for our village school, thank you to everyone involved and all those that made the day possible.
“Once again, we find our school being targeted in this latest round of reviews. Our school’s standards are as high as possible and we are seeing a boom in local future pupils. The money raised at this event and future events will aid us in our battle going forward. No rural schools = no rural families and no rural community.”
Raymond Rees, with a County 1174, won the prize for the tractor the judge would most like to take home – Dan is apparently a big fan of County’s.
Ashley Stephens won best turned-out tractor with a Case 5150 and Tony Griffiths won best original tractor.
A special mention must also go to the owner of a red Massey 148, who travelled the furthest to support the event – covering an impressive distance of 81 miles.
There was a great turnout of 100 tractors, all lending their support to the event and the school.
“It’s amazing what the spirit is found in these local farming communities and how they all pull together and want to show that Powys is making a big mistake trying to close this amazing school,” said Sarah Price, spokesperson for the Dolau School Action Group.
“It was a real privilege to have Wales rugby star Danny Lydiate come and judge the tractors. Danny attended another local rural school, Llanbister.
“A big thank you to all landowners who granted permission to go across their land, 28 miles of it, John and Richard Thomas for allowing use of their field to socially distance park all tractors and to all the sponsors for supporting us.
“And a big thank you to Ben Hardwick and Wayne Davies for organising a successful event in aid for the school.”
You can help show your support to save the school by completing the consultation form on the Dolau page of the Powys County Council website at https://en.powys.gov.uk/article/10580/Llanfihangel-Rhydithon-C.P.-School.
Alternatively, email the transforming education team on email@example.com or in writing to: Transforming Education Team, Powys County Council, County Hall, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LG. The consultation period closes on June 2.