After an award winning career as a restorer of some of the oldest timber framed buildings in Norwich, David Hood, like many of his generation at that time, decided in 1974 to opt out of the rat race.
He bought Home Farm, Suffield. It comprised a traditional Norfolk farmhouse, in a very bad state of repair, with an extensive array of barns and outbuildings and an adjacent 4.5 acre field.
The development of Home Farm became Davidís lifeís work. Although many other business and social interests took time and energy, his one constant focus for the next 28 years work was the gradual transformation of the property from the original ramshackle hodgepodge of buildings into an elegant and stylish residential complex.
"The field" was a challenge to David. It served a purpose in the early years when it housed and fed his two jersey milking cows, but thereafter - it became, as he called it, the field of dreams. Something to be tackled once the barns were completed. There were thoughts of planting trees for coppicing, or of creating an adventure park for adults ... but in reality it remained untouched, home to owls, buttercups and mushrooms and orchids. Grazed in the summer by the horses of the Rectory Riding School. Store house of Davidís large collection of architectural salvage.
It was during the final weeks leading up to his death from cancer in 2002 that David realized that he had little time left if he was to manifest his vision on the field. A decision had to be made. And so the dream of the If Not Now When Community Woodland was conceived. A wood that had something of the adventure playground to it!
In a very short space of time and a flurry of activity, the vision became grounded. Solicitors set up trust funds, architects drew up plans and friends were approached with a view to becoming trustees. By the time of his death in April 2002, the legalities were completed.
It was after his death that the task of turning the vision into a reality became a reality for the trustees. The following year, negotiations with the local planning authority resulted in some adaptation of the original vision but by the following autumn, the earth moving and tree planting had begun and the If Not Now, When Community Woodland began to grow. Long may it flourish!
|The field as it was when David first bought the site in the 1970's...||and with grazing horses...|