AS jobs go, Barry Harden’s has been both long and varied.

For next month he celebrates 50 years of farming and forestry on the Arley estate.

During that time he’s appeared in a TV drama, delivered hundreds of lambs and helped preserve the character of the historic parkland.

“The strangest moment was seeing a camel walk through the South Door of the hall looking like it owned the place, but it was just there for the filming of Our Zoo,” said Barry, who is 71.

It was in the early 1960s that Barry moved to Arley from Sussex after his father, Stanley, was made farm manager.

As a young boy he fell in love with the Cheshire countryside, often disappearing for hours on adventures across the fields.

At Knutsord High he took Rural Studies and went on to Reaseheath College, but despite his son’s growing passion and expertise Stanley was reluctant to take him on.

“He was worried about being accused of nepotism,” said Barry, who initially worked on several other local farms instead.

However, when the foot-and-mouth crisis of 1967 hit all hands were needed on the 1,000-acre farm to ensure the herd’s safety.

Barry washed wagons as they came and left the estate to reduce the risk of spreading foot-and-mouth. For nearly two years farmers had to take precautions.

“No one knew how long the crisis would last,” said Barry. “We had food delivered to the gates and there were restrictions on leaving the estate.”

After the crisis eased Barry worked his way up, eventually taking over from his dad who became estate manager.

The farming life was hard after he married Linda and had two children because it demanded so much of his time.

“When I was combining or milking Linda would bring out the kids to say ‘good night’ and that was the only time I would see them,” he said.

As farming became less of a priority for the estate Barry’s job diversified into forestry and then in helping with the logistics of outdoor events.

He also volunteered as a Special Constable patrolling Northwich Town Centre and still serves on Aston-by-Budworth Parish Council.

But his heart remains with his family and the countryside around Arley, which still brings the grandfather lots of joy to this day.

“You walk through a field or a wood and you see things other people will never see,” said Barry.

“You hear buzzards calling above you, a badger walking around in the daytime or a stoat going about its business. Moments like that just make you realise how lucky you are to be at Arley and to be doing this job.”

Lord Ashbrook, whose ancestors have lived at Arley for more than 500 years, said: “Barry has made, and continues to make, an invaluable contribution to life at Arley.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to him and to Linda for the difference they have made to the local community and the estate as a whole.”