Suffolk Show 2018: Loyal farm workers awarded Long Service Awards
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Yesterday held a very special moment for one devoted farmer – as he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather to receive the Suffolk Show’s prestigious Long Service Award.
A selection of the county’s most accomplished farm workers gathered for the presentation of this year’s awards, which recognise people who have worked on the same farm with the same employer for 30 years or more.
Neil Whatling, who works for J P Fleming & Son in Eyke, was thanked for dedicating 35 years to the farm – 13 years after his father Winston received his award for 45 years of service. Neil’s grandfather, Ted, was also recognised at the show.
While the three generations of men have all worked on different farms, they’ve kept within a five mile radius of each other – so the family were never far apart.
The award actually came as something of a shock, as Mr Whatling said: “I was astonished – they never told me about it, I just got the tickets through the post. Apparently the boss and the boss’ son should have told me, but they never did. That was a bigger surprise than anything.”
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At 51, Mr Whatling has no intention of passing on the baton yet. When asked whether he may be back in few years to pick up his 50-year award, he said: “Time will tell, nobody knows what the future holds.”
Also celebrating a very respectable 52 years of service was Tony Hart, of Charnwood Milling Co. Ltd.
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Mr Hart started on the packing line and worked his way up to be a senior maintenance engineer. He said that he was very attached to his home county.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said.
The certificates were presented by the show’s president, Baroness Hazel Byford, in the Presidents’ Garden.
Other loyal farm workers rewarded for their service included Roy Offord, who has been at Progress Farm in Wetherden for 52 years, and Richard Chivers, who has worked as a tractor driver, spray operator and pig farmer at Bedingfield Hall Farms for five decades.
The Special Award – for people who work in agriculture, but not necessarily on a farm – went to Mark Barnes. Mr Barnes has done 31 years of grain trading, and estimates that he has bought a total of 1.7 million tonnes of grain from Suffolk and north Essex farms.
The full list of winners are as follows:
Roy Offord, Progress Farm, Wetherden, 52 years.
Anthony (Tony) Hart, Charnwood Milling Co. Ltd, 52 years.
Richard Chilvers, Bedingfield Hall Farms, 50 years.
Peter Vaughan, The Scotts Company UK Ltd, 50 years.
Fred Jay, Badingham Farms, 47 years.
Robert Carter, F & H Engleheart, 41 years.
David Cooper, K E Knock & Co, 40 years.
David Burton-Pye, Rougham Estate Farms, 40 years.
Neil Whatling, J P Fleming & Son, 35 years.
Richard Garnham, Lord Cranworth Farms, 33 years.
The Special Award went to Mark Barnes, for his services to agriculture.