Fornham St Martin: Long service award winner George Manning vies for Farmworker of the Year title

George Manning and his wife Muriel.

George Manning and his wife Muriel. - Credit: Archant

An “amazing” farmworker who was honoured at this year’s Suffolk Show for 60 years of service to the industry is one of three finalists in a national awards.

George Manning, 75, who was presented by his long service award by Prince Harry for 60 years of service, is now in the running for the Farmworker of the Year title at the Farmers’ Weekly awards which take place at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Thursday night. The following day, he and wife, Muriel, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“I was surprised. I didn’t know anything about it until I had been accepted,” he said.

George has worked at RL Long Farms in Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds, since he was a schoolboy of 15 and has no plans to retire any time soon.

“You have to keep going, don’t you, while you are still fit,” said George, who has held a variety of posts on the farm, but is currently in charge of loading.

“I just enjoy it. I come to work and I just get on with it. I have been so used to doing it and it gives you something to get up for. I start work most mornings at six in the morning and sometimes I get home at seven in the evening. Then I go out in the garden until it’s dark. I have got quite a big garden and I keep that ship-shape.

“Some say I’m an old fool perhaps,” he added. “It’s just what we were brought up to in my day and you just don’t lose it. I just couldn’t bear to do nothing.”

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Andrew Long, his employer at the 3,250 acre farm, which grows vegetables and cereals, said George had worked for three generations of his family - his grandfather, his father and now him.

“He’s a very extraordinary, reliable man, dedicated to the Long family business,” he said. “It’s going to be a special night for us as a family and the business.”

He added: “He’s first here and he’s usually last to go home and he takes pride in his work. He’s an amazing man. When he does decide to retire he’s going to be very, very very missed by us all. I certainly want to see George go on as long as he wants to.”