Halesworth: Turkey tycoon Bernard Matthews dies

BERNARD Matthews, famous for starring in his own television commercials in the 1980s, has died.

Mr Matthews, who was honoured by the Queen for his charity work, died yesterday at the age of 80, his company said.

The businessman founded his huge poultry company offering cheap turkey meat to the masses.

The Bernard Matthews factory, in Holton, near Halesworth, was at the centre of controversy as animal welfare campaigners criticised his “factory farming” methods, complaining the birds suffered.

In 2005 celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched a crusade to improve school dinners, waging war on the Matthews product Turkey Twizzlers.


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Then in February 2007 the company hit the headlines when the H5N1 strain of bird flu surfaced in the UK for the first time, at the Bernard Matthews factory.

Nearly 160,000 birds were slaughtered and sales slumped.

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Mr Matthews was the son of a mechanic, born in Brooke, Norfolk in 1930.

He began his business career in 1950 when he bought 20 turkey eggs and an incubator at a market in Acle, Norfolk.

By 1952 he was producing 3,000 turkey eggs at his home and decided to leave his insurance job and move into poultry farming full-time.

Three years later he bought Great Witchingham Hall, near Norwich - a derelict mansion with 36 acres of land. It remains the headquarters of the Bernard Matthews company.

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