Who are and what is Pakefield Ferrets?
Fashioned to counteract the threat ferreting faced during the politically turbulent nineties, Pakefield Ferrets has grown since its birth in 1996. Pakefield Ferrets is an umbrella organisation set up by Simon Whitehead which consists of several different sectors that have become synonymous with ferrets, ferreting and rabbit management. From arena displays and demonstrations at country, county and game fairs, rabbit management right through to rabbit in culenary terms, Simon’s books, DVDs, bowback boxes and media work including TV, internet TV and regular articles in the Shooting Times and Countryman’s Weekly magazines. Please feel free t contact Simon for further details of his deiplays and demonstrations on 07766 168817 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Simon Whitehead
Born in Middlesbrough in 1968, Simon’s parents moved to Suffolk in 1984 after the demise of Cleveland’s steel industry. This move triggered a fascination that had been started a few years earlier in his native North-East. Having always been interested in the countryside and natural world, Simon had the opportunity to fulfil his ambition to keep and work ferrets as he was not satisfied ferreting with other people’s ferrets. At the age of fifteen, through his work experience on a market garden, Simon started his apprenticeship in ferreting that is still going strong to this day.
From a small rural Suffolk smallholding in Parham nr Wickham Market, Simons thirst for knowledge and experience deepened. Coming from and growing up in a non hunting family, it appears outlandish that such a hungry appetite could exist in Simon for ferreting. A local shed builder built a hutch for Simons ferrets so he could keep them at work and later at home, Simon still has this hutch to this day.
The only dairy farm in his locality proved to be the learning grounds for his ferreting career. Old Bob the farmer, taught Simon the basics, taught him how to correct his mistakes gained on his ferreting days out but when the dairy herd was disbanded, Simon’s hunting grounds moved on, for the better. The lanky young northerner used to pick up his Shooting News on his bicycle on his way to work, another landmark in his ferreting career. Who would have thought that years later he would be a features writer for the same magazine albeit under a new name of The Countryman’s Weekly?
With the beauty of hindsight the eighties appears to be a world away from the 21st century we live in.
Luckily in 1989, Simon met Jules, his soul mate and she changed not only his lifestyle but more importantly, gave Simon the belief to chase the dream instead of copying the masses and accepting the stereotypical, repetitive factory life existence. Never being the one to live to work as opposed to work to live, Simon took voluntary redundancy and used his money to train as a pest controller. From the outside he appeared a responsible house owner, but underneath he had the burning ambition that was light as a young teenager, to make a living from catching rabbits.
Since his move south, Simon had dreamed about making a living from catching rabbits but the harsh reality of such a lifestyle meant that the nearest he could get was to become a pest controller for a local family run business. Seduced by the image of the pester, Simon soon realised that the professional pest controller spent more time on paperwork than eradicating pests. Gaining a BPCA diploma in pest control, Simon’s passion for ferreting soon interrupted with his professional career. Internal disagreements gave Simon the opportunity to finally fulfil his ambition, some say destiny. Under the auspice of Pakefield Ferrets, Simon started his own businesses.
In the years previous, dogs, ferrets and nets played an integral part of his life, as well as the normal pastimes of the growing male, beer, football and well, Jules. Although Simon had hunted, shot and ferreted all over the UK, it was always the lure of the rabbit that enticed him. For many, ferreting is the nursery grounds for field sports to which many never return; Simon has never left! This was recognised during the countryside marches where Simon represented ferreting for the BFSS, Countryside Alliance and the Union of Country Sports Workers of whom he organised a march from Norwich to London in 2001; sadly Foot & Mouth robbed East Anglia of an historic event. The re-arranged march in London lacked the passion and commitment that was snowballing building up to the cancellation due to the dreaded Foot & Mouth.
Recognising the power of the written word, Simon started to write some short articles in the late nineties for several sporting magazines. Although the move south disrupted his education, this didn’t stop the scribbling of a ferreter being published regularly, soon to be followed by the first of three books. Ferrets was written under a tree at Burghley horse trials in 1999 and self published in 2000. A simple black and white book, Simon was growing frustrated by the portrayal of ferreters by showmen; this is what spurred on Simon to make another life changing step. For several years Simon toured east Anglian events promoting ferreting and ferret welfare but late in 2001, he decided to fulfil an ambition and start demonstrating at shows nationwide. Coinciding with disagreements at work over contracts, Simon, with the backing of Jules, decided to fulfil his ambition and professionally demonstrate ferreting during the summer at events and control rabbits in the winter in Suffolk. Many dream of turning a hobby into a business but the reality is only a few are successful.
Of course, 2001 was a hard year; Foot & Mouth ensured a lot of events were cancelled but at least this gave Simon the opportunity to book plenty of events for 2002. Since his first nervy demonstration at a Newmarket race day in front of Channel 4’s cameras, Simon has become ferreting’s premier demonstrator in the UK. The writings and opinions of Simon can be seen regularly in the Countrymen’s Weekly and Shooting Times magazine, the title bestrode to him of “The Ferret Man” gave him the titles for his successful DVD collection. Inspired by a comment made by a close friend Paul, Simon was the first to commercially build and sell bowback ferret carrying boxes, a design used by the warreners of the past, copied by the world and his dog since. In 2001 Ferrets-taking their work and welfare was published by Simon, a coloured book about ferreting.
In 2005, Grace Calvert-Whitehead was born, a wonderful shock to the system but her birth and the dismal help and support given to parents in this country has propelled Simon to make sure his different companies are successful, whether managing rabbits in the winter or “rabbiting” on about ferreting during many of his demonstrations seen at the premier events across the UK.
In 2008, Ferreting- An Essential Guide (Crowood Press), was launched along with another ferret man DVD entitled “Working Days”. Soon Simon was to appear as a regular contributor for The Shooting Times magazine. His image hads adorned the front cover on many occasions and along with his articles his films have proved to be popular.
In 2010 From Field to Fork was released on DVD to help promote rabbit as a nutricious and popular game meat.
In 2015 Run Rabbit Run was released, Simon insisting that this is his last DVD on rabbiting, concentrating on his articles and films the time and justice he feels that they deserve.
In 2018, Simon released his book on rabbit, there harvest, history, preparation and cooking entitled, 'Ahead of the Game' with Scott Rea. A publication that sold out in record time.
The winter is getting busy along with the summer shows coming in so as time ticks away, it is inevitable that more of Simons works and influences will be seen, read about or witnessed across not only the UK but the world!
For more details please feel free to contact Simon on 07766 168817 or email@example.com