Long service awards honour dedicated agricultural figures

SUFFOLK’S most committed agricultural workers were honoured for their decades of dedication with long service awards.

The Show’s president George Paul presented 17 farming veterans with certificates to mark their achievements and loyalty of more than 650 years between them.

Each recipient has worked in the industry for more than 30 years and seen the world of agriculture transform almost entirely.

But as technology keeps evolving, the same skills and enthusiasm are essential for maintaining Suffolk’s rich farming culture.

The loudest applause of the day came for Geoffrey Dunnett, of Claydon, who has worked for Charles Loft on Hill Farm, Playford, since the age of 14. His 60 years of service have seen his responsibilities on the farm range from ploughing and mucking out, to hedge cutting and tractor driving. Mr Dunnett said: “It’s been hard work but I can honestly say I’ve never wanted to do anything else for a living.

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“When I started out everything was done by hand. I remember when the sugar beat machine cam along none of us wanted to see it because we thought it would take our work away!

“But we’ve all moved with technology and it’s really nice to get this award. I don’t ever think about retirement.”

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Mr Dunnett’s employer Charles Loft has seen him grow from a shy teenager to an experienced worker and close friend. Mr Loft, 85, who has owned CD Lofts since 1946, said: “He has been superb and I couldn’t do it without him. He’s always on time, always busy and loves what he does.

“When he was younger he didn’t want to be in charge but now he wants to take care of everything.”

Mr Loft’s farm extends across 110 acres of pastural land which has in the past looked after by Mr Dunnett’s brother, father and grandfather. Mr Loft added: “I’ve seen them all - they’re a lovely family and I’m as happy as can be to see Geoff get this award.”

Other industry stalwarts awarded for their long service included Michael Salter and Anthony Heffer, of Great Glemham Farms, who have each clocked up more than half a century on the same farm.

Frederick Bloss was also awarded for his 47 years of work as a service technician in Melton with Thurlow Nunn Standen Ltd. He was joined at the ceremony by family and colleagues who gave him a rapturous reception. Mr Bloss, 62, who began mending tractors and has since built a reputation as a potato machine expert, said modestly: “I wouldn’t say I’m the best at what I do but I like being on the farm and love engineering in general. It’s a great honour to receive something like this.”

Colleague Gleen Taylor said: “Fred has been at the company since he was 15. Now he services farming machines all over East Anglia. He’s a potato machine specialist but he’s out of his overalls and not in his comfort zone today!”

Executive director of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, Christopher Bushby, said: “It’s amazing that in today’s age we are seeing more and more people qualify for these long service awards.

“Where other industries have a high staff turnover, the good news for agriculture is that the workforce is loyal.”

For working on the same farm or with the same employer on their farm for at least 30 complete years:

Peter Staff - Euston Estate Duke of Grafton - 30 years

Colin King - RH & R Paul - 35 years

David Pretty - A Tibbenham & Son - 35 years

Andrew Barber - Brian and Peral Sulman - 37 years

Michael Eady - HEO Godbold - 38 years

Terence Chambers - WL & MD Pipe - 44 years

For working on the same farm or with the same employer on their farm for at least 50 complete years:

Clifford Allen - Strachan Farms, Wrenthem - 50 years

Ron Backhouse - RH & R Paul - 50 years

John Sweeting - Mr and Mrs Gemmill, Wood Farm - 50 years

Michael Salter - Great Glemham Farms - 51 years

Anthony Heffer - Great Glemham Farms - 54 years

Clifford Mayhew - A Tibbenham & Son - 55 years

For working on the same farm or with the same employer on their farm for at least 60 complete years:

Geoffrey Dunnett - CD Lofts - 60 years

Special awards:

Frederick Bloss - For services to Suffolk agriculture and 47 years service to Thurlow Nunn Standen Ltd as a service technician

Edmund Brown - For services to Suffolk agriculture (agronomist for many Suffolk farmers)

Mike Hill - For services to the Suffolk Show (show vet)

Julia Morley - For services to the Suffolk Show (competitor in the floral art classes at the Suffolk Show for the past 50 years, winning many prizes)

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