If ever you have a spare moment to read a blog post please make it this one. A tribute to a friend, gone but not forgotten.
This entry has been a long time in the writing. It’s been started many a time, but before now I’ve not been able to finish. It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that friend and farmer Nathan Atkinson sadly died in a farming accident, 19th December 2019. He was just 26 years old.
I first had the pleasure of connecting with Nathan over his popular Instagram page dedicated to his love of farming and photography. It was shortly after that I painted his stunning photograph of British Long Horn Cow, Holly, now part of my limited edition print collection. We cemented our friendship during the filming of BBC Countryfile, 2 years ago, as we shot the Lauren’s Cows feature on his family farm in Ulverston, Lake District.
Above – Nathan’s Original photograph of Holly, alongside my limited edition print.
Left – Filming BBC Countryfile live at Crake Valley Longhorns.
Farming was a huge part of Nathan’s life, along with his love of cricket! He was manning the farm while his parents Tim and Deb were out of the country visiting Nathan’s sister in New Zealand, volunteering to stay behind to care for the animals. I can’t begin to comprehend the loss they must all be feeling.
‘He was a very special person and affected so many peoples lives. His calm caring nature meant animals and people felt loved in his presence.’ John Atkinson, Uncle
I only knew Nathan briefly, meeting him only a handful of times, but he had a huge impact on me both personally and in business. Lauren’s Cows started surprisingly and it took a long time for me to grow confidence in myself as an artist. I would doubt my talent and worried about whether the farming community would accept me or just think my art was naff. Nathan was one of the first people in the agricultural scene, that I had zero prior connection with, to enthuse about my paintings. It was these small interactions that gave me the confidence to pursue my passion and contact more farmers. It’s amazing how brief encounters can have such a lasting effect.
Right – Nathan enjoying his animals with loving girlfriend Katherine. He was always trying to tempt me to stray from my cows to paint a piggy or pup from his fantastic pictures!
It’s an opinion I share with so many others. When not farming, Nathan captained the local cricket team, as well as teaching the sport at a near by primary school. He was also a much loved house master at Dallam School near Milnthorpe. It was clear from the very first time that I met Nathan that he simply was ‘one of the good ones’.
It was through his Instagram account that Nathan really touched so many. He was a fantastic photographer. Although only practicing in his free time, his photographs were always stunning capturing the beauty of the Lake District and giving people world wide an insight into farming. His account was followed by well over 8000 people from across the world who tuned in to see his snapshots that would always bring a smile. When his Dad, Tim shared the sad news of his passing the tributes came flooding in.
‘I am so terribly terribly sorry for your loss. Rest In Peace Nathan, I’ve enjoyed the photos you’ve shared of the life you clearly loved.’
‘I am a small farmer in Canada. I received great joy from following your son’s account. Beautiful countryside, his love of farming and the outdoors was uplifting. I am so sorry for your loss. My sincerest condolences.’
‘I am so sad to hear this. What a fantastic young man. Love this account and his enlightened approach to farming. I’m so sorry for you all.’
‘Like so many of us here, I too truly enjoyed seeing your son’s posts about farm life through his eyes. I send my deepest sympathy from our farm in Tasmania, Australia.’
‘Having followed Nathan for a number of years, this is absolutely heartbreaking to read. I am so sorry that this has happened. I have absolutely loved seeing Nathan’s posts. I’m from a city, and have little knowledge or experience of farming, and Nathan’s passion and outlook on farming and the countryside brought me and countless others joy, and I hope that fact can bring you a small amount of joy at such an awful time.’
I urge you to take a moment to enjoy his photography, many of which are captioned #howluckyami, on his Instagram profile as they truly are breath taking. Both Holly and Ronnie were painted from photos taken by Nathan.
Farming can be such a dangerous occupation. You work long hours, often solo, at heights, with machinery and even animals have their hazards, especially cattle. So many farmers are seriously injured or killed when performing everyday tasks on the farm.
I can’t express in words what a pleasure it was to know Nathan, I only wish I’d had more opportunities. It was a breath of fresh air to meet someone who so loved what they did for a living and had such an appreciation for the world around him. My Holly print hangs above my desk and I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to create something that hopefully encapsulates everything that Nathan was about. These artworks and his photographs will be a lasting legacy of a man who gave so much joy to so many.