Mere Brook House is owned by Donald and Lorna Tyson. Donald was born in Barrow and moved to Blackburn when he was three years old, as his father was transferred to a new position within the civil service. From an early age, despite living in an urban environment, he demonstrated his interest in animals and crops, breeding budgerigars and bantams, as well as buying and selling potatoes.
An entrepreneur in the making, Donald would sell potatoes to the local shop, send his mother to buy some and then have her return to the shop to report on how good they were. As a teenager, much of his spare time was spent working on the family farm of a school friend, which was always a more attractive proposition than his academic studies. On leaving school, he went on to work full time on the Wilsons' farm, which was run by Mr Wilson and his nine children.
Three years later, Donald went to the Lancashire College of Agriculture to study agriculture, initially for one year, but then extending his studies to a total of four years. He gained the top award within his group. While at college, he met Lorna, a farmer’s daughter from Cheshire who was studying dairying. On completing her course, Lorna gained a position as a chemistry technician at Myerscough College.
In 1975, Donald and Lorna married. At the time, Lorna was working as a Lecturer of Agriculture and Donald as a herdsman for Myerscough College. Despite having a secure position, Donald was determined to start farming on his own and in 1978 was successful in gaining the tenancy of an 80 acre Lancashire County Council dairy farm. Over the next nine years he developed the business, increasing the herd to 90 pedigree Holstein cows, with heifer replacements home reared and 2,000 turkeys reared and hand plucked for the Christmas market. The family also expanded, with the birth of Robert in 1981, quickly followed by Christopher in 1982. By now, Lorna was a course manager at the college and made history there when she took maternity leave. In 1987, having outgrown the farm, Donald and Lorna were fortunate to gain the tenancy of the much larger Leverhulme dairy farm, on the Wirral.
Donald has continued to grow the business and currently has 300 dairy cows, rears all heifer replacements and has developed a DIY livery yard. Over the years, Lorna held many positions at the college, including Marketing Manager, Section Leader Business, Head of Department and Director. In the latter part of her career, she developed a Rural Business Centre and Rural Business Incubator, offering courses and business development services to adults and small rural businesses. In 2004 she was awarded an MBE for services to rural enterprise in the North West.
Rugby dominates the family’s life with Donald, Robert and Christopher all playing for Wirral until recently, sometimes all in the same team and trying to set up family tries! Donald has reluctantly hung up his boots, but still enjoys riding his horse Boo, while Lorna prefers to keep her feet on the ground and is an active member of a local walking group.
Mere Brook House – Recent Developments
Donald and Lorna were attracted to Mere Brook House by its impressive external features, wonderful mature gardens and its large traditional rooms. In addition, there was the bonus of the paddocks and stables that run down to the Mere Brook. Perhaps the most important feature for Donald, though, was that the fourth team pitch of the rugby club could be viewed from one of the bedroom windows!
In early 2006, Donald and Lorna decided to embark on a major refurbishment and extension project. This would allow them to share their house with others by offering high quality accommodation, with visitors able to work or relax in comfort and luxury. Initially, the main house was renovated to provide four bedrooms, but, in 2012, the former coach house and garage was extended and refurbished to provide a further four bedrooms.