Lavenham: Tributes paid to ‘one of county’s great characters’
16:00 19 July 2014
Tribute has been paid to “forthright, amusing and ever-optimistic” Lavenham farmer Harold Chrystal, who has died aged 92.
More than 450 people attended his funeral, which took place on Monday at Lavenham Church.
Harold was born at Hill Farm, Thorpe Morieux in 1921.
He was schooled at Thorpe and at the Grammar school in Bury St Edmunds before attending Writtle Agricultural College.
He joined his father at Strutt and Parker Farms, Thorpe Morieux as assistant manager and learnt his trade under the watchful eyes of Gerald Strutt and then Sir Nigel Strutt.
Farming 3000 acres with a large and successful dairy herd and one of the largest Suffolk Horse studs in East Anglia. In 1948 there was the opportunity to buy a farm of their own. Harold and his father purchased Lavenham Hill Farm, a 310 acre mixed farm, again with a dairy herd, 11 Suffolk horses and eight men.
In 1948 he became a Suffolk Show steward in the Grand Ring and became senior steward of the show jumping.
He earned the respect of the top riders and developed the show jumping to international standing, something he was very proud of.
He was a stalwart of the association and particularly the Suffolk Show and was one of the first recipients of the Honorary Life Vice President’s Award, which was given in recognition of the many years of passionate service he gave to the show and the association’s council. Harold supported many other agricultural groups, in particular the South Suffolk Crop Competition in which he won many cups.
Harold was a keen sportsman and played hockey for Bury YMCA, Suffolk Exiles, Suffolk and the East of England and proved to be a very skilful centre forward. After his playing days were over he became involved in the administration side of hockey as Secretary to Suffolk.
He soon became chairman and in 1968 was asked to run an international match by the Hockey Association. This match was held at Portman Road, the first time a hockey international was played at a football stadium.
More than 5000 people watched the game between Great Britain and Germany and was so successful that the county was asked to host the international matches against France in 1972 and Malaysia in 1976 which were both held at Portman Road.
In 1980 he became President of the East and his proudest moment came in 1982 when he managed the Suffolk side to the final of the county championship held at Cranes sports club in Ipswich.
“He will long be remembered for the passion, dedication and commitment he gave to hockey in Suffolk and the East,” said his son, Richard.
“Forthright, amusing, ever optimistic and enthusiastic in all he did, he will be remembered by many as one of Suffolk’s great characters.”
Suffolk Agricultural Association executive director Chris Bushby described him as “a stalwart of the SAA and particularly the Suffolk Show”.
“Harold was one of the first honorary life vice presidents, a council member for many years as well as a senior steward and steward. He will be particularly remembered for how he developed show jumping at the Suffolk Show to international level and he was never frightened to give an articulate opinion at council,” he said.