Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

David John Layland 11th July 1944 – 8th December 2010

From the Parish News – February 2011

A large congregation gathered in St. Mary's, Denton to wish farewell to David Layland, who died aged 66 yrs having been diagnosed with cancer only 18 months previously. The service, conducted by Rev Linda Butler, was lightened by the singing of carols, very fitting as Christmas was always a highlight of David's year. Richard Bond's eulogy contained some humorous anecdotes and caused many a chuckle, reflecting the many light hearted moments in David's life.

David's parents Jack and Marjory were dairy farmers at Bures in Suffolk. David had to take responsibility for the farm at age 19 when his father died and Marjory took over the tenancy. Being brought up with cattle farming he had a natural stockman's eye and the ability to judge at a glance the potential of a beast, standing him in good stead when he changed from dairy to beef.

In 1967 he married Margaret who he met at the YFC. Her parents farmed on Mersey, Essex, so she familiar with farming problems and knew what to expect! Tenancy regulations changed at this time – their landlord wanted the farm to be amalgamated with others, so David and Margaret were forced to look elsewhere for a farm in 1974. This brought them with their two daughters Jackie (7) and Cathie (4) to Darrow Farm, Denton, vacant following the death of Billie Johnson - tenant for many years. David came as farm manager for Homer and Margaret Young who farmed at Pulham Market Hall and Thorpe Abbots. David was allowed to occupy the buildings and surrounding meadows - he brought his herd of beef cattle and drove his tractor and trailer loaded with implements from Bures to Denton! The family soon became established in the village, the girls going to the local schools. David's colourful personality brought him fame in the local hostelries, especially the "Three Horseshoes" at Hempnall Green, Alburgh Social Club and in later years at the "Wortwell Bell". He also enjoyed shooting and joined the Alburgh Shoot where he and his dog "Jacko", an independent minded Jack Russell always brought a little spice to the occasion when brushing! A perfectionist in all he tackled whether fixing machinery or hanging a gate, his yard and workshop were always immaculate. His expertise with cattle was renowned, he regularly attended Norwich market in its heyday, and his advice was always welcomed and readily given.

In 2004 they decided to convert their barn into a dwelling, the planning and resultant success of the venture gave them great pleasure and satisfaction. Sadly he only had five years to enjoy it – in 2008 he developed stomach cancer, having an extensive operation and chemotherapy. He was determined to keep active though - tending his cattle and kepeping his yard and premises immaculate as usual. He even took Margaret to Majorca for a break last May. However the cancer spread and proved inoperable. He was admitted to the N. & N. hospital for 2 weeks before being moved to All Hallows where he died peacefully after 3 days.

Throughout his married life of 43 years, Margaret and his family were the predominant factors of his life and he was the idol of his two grandchildren, Oliver and Holly

Our sympathy and condolences go especially to Margaret, Jackie , Sam and Oliver, and Cathie, Steve and Holly. As Richard aptly summed up; "David was a true countryman, who whatever the situation added some colour, and our world is going to be a little more black and white without him".

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