Joy at Bridge Farm
Delighted to hear Natasha and Tom are expecting twins. It’s 25 years now since Tom’s brother John was killed in a tragic tractor accident on the farm. It happened on Tom’s seventeenth birthday and to this day he’s been carrying a fair bit of mental baggage from that terrible event.
Nothing’s going to take away the pain of that memory obviously. It’s the same for all the family - Pat, Tony and Helen especially. But for Tom the arrival of twins will surely dull the ache of past hurts. There’ll be a new joy and hope to balance the sadness so long associated with those Bridge Farm fields.
Tom’s a character I had a lot to do with in my time in Ambridge. John’s tragic death on his dad’s vintage tractor was a storyline I crafted along with some of the family fall-out. It’s probably the main reason why Tom ended up in the Crown Court a couple of years later on a charge of criminal damage. He’d wanted to protect the organic food business his brother had set up, so he took the extreme step of trashing his Uncle Brian’s experimental GM crop.
Researching Tom’s defence I talked to a couple of the top environmental lawyers in the UK. I then wrote the scripts for the trial, trying at least to give equal weight to both the defence and the prosecution cases. I guess my personal bias must have shown through because the jury found Tom not guilty. As now, joy was unconfined at Bridge Farm.
Not long after the storyline aired the national news headlines followed those of the Borchester Echo. Lord Melchett, head of Greenpeace, was arrested and charged with the same offence after helping to destroy a GM crop in Norfolk. His defence team used the same arguments as Tom’s team. And like Tom he was found not guilty.
For the first time I’ve now told the whole story in my crowd-funded book, Underneath The Archers. Tom’s come a long way since then. He’s had his share of problems, but he seems at last to have found happiness with Natasha. I couldn’t be more pleased for them. However I do hope family life and domesticity won’t mean the total end of Tom’s radical spirit!