The Black Farmer says 'gift of life' is enough as he shields over Christmas

The Black Farmer will be shielding this Christmas due to complications in his cancer fight but has said he believes the gift of life is enough.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones says he won’t be ‘wallowing in misery’ at Christmas and treats every day as a blessing after narrowly surviving leukemia five years ago.

He was told by doctors he had just three months to live before he underwent a new type of stem cell treatment called a haploidentical transplant.

Wilfred, 62, spent a year in University College Hospital in London, where doctors had to act fast to save his life.

Although he pulled through, he was left with a condition called graft versus host disease, which has affected his skin and other organs in his body.

The entrepreneur told ‘If it wasn’t for the science and medical care at the time, I would be dead. I’m fortunate to live in a time when it had become available.

‘I’ll be shielding this Christmas but I won’t be wallowing in misery. Out of tragedy comes hope. I’m lucky to be alive. I’m determined not to let my condition stand in my way, so I continue to live life to the full with passion and drive.’

Imbued with a new energy after leaving hospital, the Windrush-generation businessman set about building up The Black Farmer, which is now stocked by major supermarkets.

He also started The Hatchery, a collaborative incubator for ambitious food entrepreneurs.

Wilfred has had an eventful year during which he was awarded an MBE for services to British farming in the New Year’s Honours List, had to contend with the Covid-19 impact on the farming industry and appeared in a Sainsbury’s campaign for Black History Month.

He later spoke out in support of the supermarket amid a backlash from some social media users in response to its ‘Gravy Song’ Christmas ad featuring a black family.

This Christmas he has joined forces with Colman’s to launch a £40 ‘best of British box’ which can be ordered from his website.

The feast includes topside of beef, boneless gammon, stuffing balls, gluten-free pigs in blankets alongside a helping of the iconic English mustard and Wilfred’s own red wine gravy.

His unlikely rise to prominence included moving to the UK from Jamaica with his parents and eight siblings in 1961.

The family originally settled in Birmingham before he went on to become a BBC TV producer and director on his way to establishing The Black Farmer.

Gracie Tryell, who co-founded the business along with sister Sophie, told ‘We reached out to Wilfred after hearing an interview with him.

‘The reason we reached out is because we were totally inspired by his attitude to life. We were incredibly moved by his story and in awe of his ability to embrace jeopardy and find hope and positivity in challenging situations.

‘He’s not afraid of being vulnerable, he’s not afraid of judgement, which is incredibly refreshing.

‘These days people hide their vulnerability; it takes a lot of courage to be truly vulnerable but Wilfred’s attitude and ability to face fear head on is what has got him to where he is and we love that.’

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