Essex poultry supremo Derek is made patron of the Turkey Club UK

Turkey entrepreneur Derek Kelly, left, was presented with a painting of a turkey by Stephen Lister,

Turkey entrepreneur Derek Kelly, left, was presented with a painting of a turkey by Stephen Lister, chairman of EPIC organising committee. - Credit: Archant

A veteran Essex turkey producer is celebrating his second accolade in recent weeks after he was elected as patron of the Turkey Club UK.

Kelly Turkeys founder Derek Kelly has been a champion of traditional farm-fresh turkeys through his long career and with son, Paul, has built up a successful business breeding turkeys at Springate Farm, Danbury, as well as marketing the multi-award-winning premium KellyBronze brand.

The Turkey Club UK, which aims to conserve and promote all pure breeds of turkey, voted him in at its annual meeting at the Telford International Centre, Shropshire.

“It was not difficult to accept the invitation to become patron,” said Derek. “My training was in animal genetics, I had a collection of nine rare breeds of turkeys until a commercial hatchery on site meant they were disbanded, and I was an inaugural member of the club.

“All this indicates my passion for helping the fancier to prosper. It is an honour to follow the late Will Burdett, and I look forward to working with the team headed by chairman Peter Hayford.”

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His predecessor, Will Burdett MBE, an advocate of pure breeds, has been patron of the Turkey Club UK since it was founded 17 years ago. He exhibited champion poultry and even looked after a flock of Buff Orpingtons owned by the late Queen Mother. He was also a pioneer of the modern UK broiler industry.

Derek was recently awarded a lifetime achievement accolade by the Egg & Poultry Industry Conference during its 50th anniversary event at Newport, where he was presented with a painting of a turkey by East Anglian artist Libby Turner.

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Derek Kelly began breeding turkeys in the 1970s after acquiring the former River Rest hatchery. Today Kelly Turkeys is one of the largest suppliers of poults for production of traditional Christmas turkeys.

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