Tributes paid to college principal who inspired a generation of farmers

Tributes have been paid to John Paton Philip, who has died aged 92. Picture: RACHEL FRYER

Tributes have been paid to John Paton Philip, who has died aged 92. Picture: RACHEL FRYER - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to the former principal of Chadacre Agricultural College, John Paton Philip MBE, who has died at the age of 92.

Mr Paton Philip led the college, near Bury St Edmunds, from 1958 to 1980, giving hundreds of aspiring youngsters the chance to take up a career in farming.

Born and raised in Cambridge, he later studied agriculture at St John’s College, rowing for the University’s boat race team and later becoming its president.

He then moved to Ireland and worked on the Guinness Estate, where he met his wife Margaret, moving to Suffolk in 1958 when Mr Paton Philip took over at Chadacre.

His daughter Rachel Fryer said Chadacre was his ‘life’s work’.

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“He was a very special, very caring and very supportive man,” she said.

“Chadacre was his biggest achievement.

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“The number of students who went through the college - that’s his life’s work.

“To have people he taught still farming and to have that love of the countryside is so special.

“He was a bigger than life character but never put himself forward like that.”

Mick Mumford, treasurer of the Chadacre Old Students Association (COSA), said Mr Paton Philip had a huge impact on an entire generation of farmers.

“He was an amazing person,” he said. “He cared for his students not only when we were at the college but after we left too - he would always keep in touch.

“He was an incredible man.”

Mr Paton Philip left the school in 1980, the same year he was awarded an MBE for services to agriculture.

While still working at the school, Mr Paton Philip was also appointed as the president of the Suffolk Show.

He was married to Margaret for 66 years and had four children, Deborah, Nicholas, Jennifer and Rachel, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren - his ninth, Leonella, was born on Tuesday, November 6, in Australia. After leaving Chadacre, Mr Paton Philip moved up to Gatehouse of Fleet in Scotland with Margaret, and became a shepherd.

The estate at Chadacre, including the Grade II listed country house built in the 1830s, was later sold for £16 million.

COSA are planning to hold a thanksgiving service for Mr Paton Philip early next year.

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