ONE FINAL WISH: Farmer shares last journey with beloved horses

HEADS bowed, intent on their task, Major and Joseph, two magnificent Shire horses, solemnly pull retired farmer Thomas Lodge on his final journey, fulfilling his wishes for a fitting send-off.

The 89-year-old, who was famed for his knowledge of the horse breed and in demand for his judging services at agricultural shows across the country, had asked his daughter Joan Wood to make his last wish come true.

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So with a police escort she and fellow mourners followed the cortege on the 45-minute route from Ainley Top to Huddersfield Crematorium yesterday. The father-of-three from Salendine Nook died just days before his 90th birthday and had worked at his family’s farm in Denby Dale for more than 50 years.

Mrs Wood, 58, of Scammonden, said: “The horses that pulled him were ones my father would have judged at some time. They came from a gentleman called Peter Eyres of Castleton in Derbyshire. They were black ones – the ones he liked best.”

More than 200 people crowded into the hall at the crematorium to hear Mr Lodge’s friend Neil Avison recount how he loved the farming life and how he came to be acknowledged as one of the country’s foremost experts on Shire horses.