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John Plumb, farmer and cattle judge, dies aged 84

PUBLISHED: 11:29 14 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 07 July 2010

Top cattle judge and North Norfolk farmer, John Plumb, who has died aged 84 after a long illness, travelled the world to promote East Anglia's native breed.

TOP cattle judge and North Norfolk farmer, John Plumb, who has died aged 84 after a long illness, travelled the world to promote East Anglia's native breed.

He was the first honorary vice-president in the history of the Red Poll Cattle Society and had served as president in the centenary year in 1988. He welcomed world delegates to the Norwich congress, which was addressed by former agriculture minister and Norfolk MP, John MacGregor, and also his farm at Melton Constable.

Edward John Plumb was born at Elveden on November 29, 1924. His father, who had been severely injured in 1917 while serving with the Norfolk Regiment, ran the village's post office and general store.

He went to Thetford Grammar School and later read agriculture at Nottingham University, where the 50 students included two girls. And in 1951, he married Pat.

After training for the RAF, he was “demobbed” complete with suit and was directed back into agriculture as the drive to feed the nation in the post-war years took priority.

He was sent by Ministry of Agriculture to run a badly-run down farm in Sussex but in 1947 moved to run what became the 1,800-acre Close House estate in the Tyne Valley at Wylam - now Newcastle University's playing fields.

In 1953, he was offered a tenancy of a 142-acre Tipples Farm, Melton Constable, by Lord Hastings. He started farming with £250 and an overdraft, milking a pedigree Red Poll herd. It was sufficiently profitable to help educate his children, he used to say.

He became a breed judge and was later invited to preside at the Royal and Royal Welsh several times. His judging duties also took him overseas to North and South America, New Zealand and the breed's stronghold in Jamaica.

He was chairman of the eastern region's breeders' association in 1968 but dispersed the 80-strong dairy herd in 1977 although he retained some Red Polls. He also started a Murray Grey herd and was elected to its ruling council in 1982.

A keen member of Norfolk National Farmers' Union, he was chairman of Holt branch and served on county committees including sugar beet, cereals and livestock. In 1982, he represented the county at the London NFU meeting.

He joined Holt & District Rotary Club in 1962 and served as president. He enjoyed sport, playing both cricket and tennis, and also gardening.

He leaves a widow, Pat, five children, 18 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

A private cremation service will be held, which will be followed by a memorial service, is to be arranged.


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