Bob Wills & John Thomson

Bob Wills is an engineer who took up and developed new ways of casting metal in neoprene. This enabled him to found a very successful model-making business, Wills Fine Cast, which continues to this day.

Bob was a pupil of the New School in Streatham, the pioneering Steiner Waldorf school which subsequently changed its name to Michael Hall and moved to Forest Row in East Sussex. Through Christopher Mann, a good friend and a teacher at Michael Hall who was also heavily involved in biodynamic agriculture, Bob became a founding trustee of St Anthony’s Trust, a local charity that bought Plaw Hatch Farm when it got into financial difficulties and enabled it to continue as a biodynamic farm.

Owning and running a farm did not sit easily within the trust’s charitable objectives, so Bob was also involved when it became possible for the farm to be taken into community ownership in 2005 and join the Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms Co-op. Since then, Bob has continued to be involved with the work of St Anthony’s Trust in supporting the training of biodynamic farmers and growers.

About Tablehurst Farm

About Plaw Hatch Farm

John Thomson was born in 1925, the third of four children, and grew up on a farm in the Tweed valley in the Scottish borders. As a child, he experienced the hard life of farmers in an era when human, horse and water power still did all the work and he remembers the impact of the arrival of electricity, radio and the telephone.

John was educated at a co-educational high school in Peebles and then studied at Edinburgh University for degrees in humanities and law. He was called to military service in 1943, selected for officer training and chose to go to India, where his battalion was due to be sent to Burma to engage with the Japanese. Before the order was given, the war was brought to an end by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the war, John returned in 1947 to his studies in Edinburgh, graduated in 1950 and went off to Paris to paint. While in France, he began to teach to help pay the bills and he continued to teach when he returned to London. In 1953, John encountered anthroposophy and subsequently became a Steiner Waldorf teacher.

In 1955, John married Marie-Claire, with whom he had four children, all of whom were educated at Elmfield Steiner Waldorf School.

In 1980, John was invited by Francis Edmunds to run the teachers’ training course at Emerson College in Forest Row, East Sussex. It was during his time at Emerson College that John became involved in the arrangements that led to the creation of Tablehurst Farm as a community-owned biodynamic farm in 1996, which was also the year of his retirement.

John was then able to spend more time on painting and writing, as well as teaching Rudolf Steiner’s The Philosophy of Freedom. John was also for many years a trustee of St Anthony’s Trust, the charity that owns the land farmed by Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch biodynamic community farms.