PETER Stubbs, Barnard Castle farmer and founder of Wear and Tees Farm Watch, is an inspiration to the industry according to the National Farmers’ Union.

At the NFU’s regional rural crime conference at Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield, Mr Stubbs was awarded lifetime honorary membership of the union in recognition of more than 20 years working with his wife, Gladys, on behalf of the local farming community to combat rural crime.

Richard Betton, Teesdale farmer and NFU North Riding and Durham council representative, presented the award.

He said: “Peter and Gladys are really where the Farm Watch movement started – patrolling the remote moorland roads around their farm back in 1989 on a totally voluntary basis armed with nothing but a Land Rover.

“Two decades on and now in their 70s, they still regularly go out on patrol but these days have the police and upward of 80 farmers for company – many more for co-ordinated Farm Watch operations.

“Together they have clocked up more than 9,000 hours on patrol, they have inspired hard-pressed police officers to work with them and the farming community, they have encouraged other farmers, game keepers and rural residents to join in.

“They have raised significant funds and most importantly kept up the pressure on a criminal fraternity that otherwise would be intent on targeting remote rural areas.

“It’s only fitting, given such service to the local farming community, that Peter should be awarded honorary membership of the NFU and I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce this today. No-one could be more deserving."