Cattle breeding helped Frances recover from debilitating illness

Dexter cattle have played a significant part in helping a Storrington woman to recover from the debilitating illness of M.E.

Frances Sedgwick worked for many years for Goodwood Estate Farm near Chichester, and was an integral part of the conception and development of its organic food brands business before being made redundant when diagnosed with M.E. in 2007.

Despite her illness, Frances completed her degree in Countryside Management at the University of Brighton, Plumpton College, achieving a First, and was also named Student of the Year.

She went on to establish her Greyfriars herd of Dexter cattle with the support of her husband, Simon.

Since then, the cows have been of great therapeutic value to Frances, aiding her recovery from the illness.

Frances was born and bred in Storrington and she has consistently encouraged fellow M.E. sufferers, saying that, with the right support and working at their own pace, they can still achieve and improve their quality of life.

She changed her whole lifestyle and the way she undertook a task by breaking it down into small half-hour to hour blocks, with considerable help from her husband on physically more demanding tasks.

She even managed a Field Trip to South Africa as part of her studies, accompanied by her husband as her carer.

She is now an authority on Dexter cattle, having established her herd in 2010, and her perseverance culminated in winning the Hungerhill Perpetual Challenge Cup for the Best non-Holstein cow at West Grinstead and District Ploughing and Agricultural Society’s annual show this autumn.

Rhianna Tiller ( six) also exhibited Mrs Segwick’s three-month old Dexter calf ‘Greyfriars William’ achieving a coveted second place in a high entry class at the event.

Dexters are a dual-purpose breed with both beef and dairy qualities. She chose the breed not only for their fine, connoissseur beef, but also for their hardy nature, longevity and their use as a grazing tool. Their compadct size of only up to 107cm at the shoulder, and lighter weight benefits the grassland and avoids poaching the land.

She has just made her first deliver of Dexter beef from her herd to The Hungry Guest in Petworth, which specialises in selling quality, locally produced foods. She hopes her success story will encourage other M.E sufferers.