As Heritage Intern at Catcher Media, I have met so many interesting characters - and the first of all of them was Ivor Stephens. I joined the team in early October 2017, towards the end of hop-picking season, when Catcher Media were still busily collecting interviews for ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’. We were keen to speak to Ivor, who was one of the few people we had heard of who was a “Busheller”. So, on a bright autumn morning we paid a visit to Ivor’s house in Ledbury, and I got my first behind-the-camera interview experience.
Ivor was a sprightly 95-year-old with a firm handshake, and the perfect host; producing a beautiful victoria sponge for our visit! When we asked how he managed such a moist and crumbly cake, he showed us the recipe he used: a short, hand-written note from his late wife, which he had kept and followed to the letter.
While we enjoyed our cake and hot cup of tea, Ivor told us stories. He described what it was like bushelling hops at the end of the Second World War, how he handled conflicts in the hop yard, about hauling hop pockets and buying, selling and working with horses. I remember he didn’t take himself too seriously, often making a wry comment that showed he had a cheeky sense of humour.
Sadly, Ivor passed away recently. His funeral is today, almost a year since we spoke to him on camera. I am so glad I had a chance to meet Ivor, who gave me such a lovely first interview experience.
You can see his full interview here. We recommend you watch it with a piece of victoria sponge.