Suffolk Show: Prince Harry presents kingpin George Manning with a long service award to recognise 60 years service to the industry

HRH Prince Harry visits the Suffolk Show 2014. HRH Prince Harry visits the Suffolk Show 2014.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
5:40 PM

Workers who have dedicated a lifetime of service to farming businesses in Suffolk were honoured today.

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The long service awards recognise those who show a passion and dedication to the industry and nobody could embody that better than George Manning.

Mr Manning, 75, has been working at RL Long Farms in Fornham St Martin since he was a schoolboy of 15 and is still going strong.

In that time the farm and farming in general has seen a massive transformation.

He said: “I think a lot of things have changed for the better, we had hard work when I first started,” said Mr Manning. “We coped with it, we just did it.

“I did 40 odd years as a lorry driver with the firm,” he said. And then vowed: “I’m going to do another year and see what happens after then.”

Mr Manning added that he was “very happy” to receive the award, “it’s a good achievement after 60 years”.

Paul Francis is the manager of the arable farm on which Mr Manning works, and he explained that they produce more than 12,000 tonnes of potatoes a year.

“George is a kingpin to be honest,” he said, “he’s somebody all the young lads aspire to be. You can’t fault him or his attention to detail, I’d be lost without him, especially during the summer when he organises all the transport for the potatoes on our farm.

“He is in charge basically of that loading. When we’re shifting 100 tonnes a day, liaising with the lorry drivers, getting them in, that’s an area I don’t have to worry about because he has mastered it.”

Mr Francis added: “I’m absolutely proud, it’s an amazing achievement, he’s earned it.”

David Eady was proud to accept his award for 50 years of service to Shimpling Park Farms, not just because of his own achievements, but because he was carrying on a family tradition.

Mr Eady’s father receive an award for 50 years of service to the farm from Princess Diana, while his grandfather was presented with his long service award by the Queen.

“I feel very happy and honoured to receive this award because, with my father and grandfather, three of us now have done over 50 years service with the same company,” said Mr Eady, who is 65.

“To finish this off with Prince Harry was just out of this world for me.”

Mr Eady has lived on the farm where he works all of his life, and said he never really doubted what his future would hold.

“When I was a really small child I spent every moment with father (on the farm), and then out of school and holidays I was always with him and as I got older I started tractor work and doing all those things even before I left school. So it’s always been in my blood, the unfortunate thing is I’ve got nobody to take it on after me.

“I’ve seen one big hell of a change. There’s much less labour, there were 40-odd men when I started on the farm in the mid-60s, and now there are two or three of us on the same farm, but a lot more acres to what we had then.”

Mr Eady, who started working full time on the farm at the age of 15, said he was only starting to slow down, “I do three days at the moment but when we’re really busy I get back to five days a week.”

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