Keep calm and carry on, says Andrew Freemantle

On the morning of Monday 27 February at about 3am we had a fire in one of our containerised pig buildings which spread to the identical one next to it. We lost 28 sows and more than 300 piglets from one to five days old. My wife was woken by a bang at about 4.15am and I looked out of our bedroom to see a fire engine at our farm entrance from one window and a raging fire out of the other.

There was nothing that could be done for the pigs; they died from asphyxiation long before the fire got to them, and all the fire brigade could do was damp down the buildings close by and reduce the smoke from the fire blowing over the pigs on the farm. Tragic as was the loss of life, if the wind had been blowing the other way, the fire could have spread to the rest of the pig buildings and we could have lost the lot; we have about 2,200 pigs on site.

For me and my family, the truly heartening thing about this terrible situation has been the help and support received from our staff and the wider agricultural community. On Tuesday, while I was going through the events of the fire with the NFU CSI lady – NFU Insurance has been excellent as well – my staff were doing the grisly job of removing the dead stock and clearing the site. Ground zero is now all but tided up. From about 9am on the Monday I was getting calls from fellow pig farmers and neighbours offering help and support, which was truly touching. So a truly heartfelt thank you from the Freemantle family for everyone who pitched in or offered help.

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