Lord Henry Plumb of Coleshill funeral today

JP1

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Livestock Farmer
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Lord Plumb

A New Chapter in the Life of the Foundation as we say Farewell to our Patron Henry​

18th May, 2022

The funeral service for the family and close friends took place at Maxstoke Church, Henry’s local Church and his body was laid to rest with his wife Marjorie.
The Thanksgiving Service was led by Reverend Nick Parker supported by the Reverend Canon Michael Irving and many family members. The Eulogy was given by John Thorley Click Here. It took place at the St Peters & St Pauls Church at Coleshill supported by a capacity congregation of some 320 people from all over the United Kingdom with a strong deputation from the European Parliament.
Dr Robert Ramsay formerly Chef de Cabinet at the Plumb administration in the European Parliament said

“Lord Plumb was the only Briton to be elected President of the European Parliament. From the perspective of European history, his presidency, from 1987 to 1989, was of considerable importance. It took place in the aftermath of the Single European Act, which marked a step-up in the legislative role of the parliament and its standing as a major institution. Henry’s leadership, at both political and administrative level, was crucial to the success of that transitional period. His long experience as a negotiator and his personal charm were a boon to the parliament, and indeed to the EU overall. He is especially fondly remembered by the staff for his consideration of their interests in challenging times, and for his warm and friendly personality. We mourn his passing and salute his memory”.​

 

JP1

Member
Livestock Farmer
John Thorley eulogy:

Henry Plumb 27th March 1925 – 15th April 2022 Eulogy by John Thorley – 12th May 2022

It is a privilege to have been asked by the Plumb family to provide the Eulogy for Henry. I accede to the request with trepidation as it is challenging to say just a few words about such a remarkable man who has been a close friend for some fifty years. And so as we take our leave of this our very special friend of incredible ability who left school at the age of 15 and went on to achieve high office in everything he put his hand to, we reflect on his tangible capacity for hard work with a huge sense of care and kindness towards his family and friends.

A natural born diplomat second to none with a gentle, highly tuned sense of humour and realism I feel certain that his silent prayer in recent months would have been “God give me work till my life is done and life till my work is done”. Henry will have gone to his maker with the quiet satisfaction that he had made the most of his many talents and long life.

On the day of Henrys’ passing Minette Batters, the President of the NFU, said “Today, British Farming has lost one of its greatest ever advocates and the NFU has lost its greatest ever President”.

This is a Service of Thanksgiving for a life lived to its utmost, in the fullest sense of the word, and not in any selfish way, but created naturally to harness a wonderful talent in the most effective way to enable him to express the views of his various constituencies.

Henry was a true man of the soil and every farmer in whatever country felt at ease with him and he with them. It might not be unreasonable to say that it is only now, when metaphorically we’ve turned our backs on the European Union, that we really appreciate the central thread of its endeavours. Henry himself in his Valedictory Speech to the House of Lords in 2017 said “In the European Parliament, I had no particular ambition to get involved but found myself chairman of the 50 strong Agriculture Committee, I then became leader of the Conservative Group for Europe which also included members from Northern Ireland, Spain and Denmark. In 1987 I was elected President of the whole Parliament.

This was followed by a complimentary letter from Mrs Thatcher and an invitation to become a working Peer”. Henry was a dedicated enthusiast for whatever he put his mind to and never wavered from his belief in the need for good people to work together. He was a committed team player. He also believed in sorting out problems around the table and in the Churchillian philosophy that Jaw Jaw was far more productive than War War.

His final thoughts on the matter of Britain leaving the European Union, he summed up by saying again in his final speech to The House of Lords “We have to admit that it is difficult to imagine precisely what the world, the EU and the UK will look like on the other side of withdrawal. At the end of what we hope will be a successful negotiation, we will pass across the Yet-to-bedesigned bridge of an implementation stage. The media is currently focussing the national gaze on that period of five years or so as our “future”. As I look back on almost five decades of the European project, I must look far beyond those mere five years.

Paraphrasing, he went on to say the UK is moving on but in ways not yet agreed in detail because inevitably the EU will also move on. It will be for another generation altogether both here and there to determine whether the respective directions of travel will tend to diverge or converge. My instinct tells me that the future generations in Britain and Europe will favour a convergence.

He concluded his remarks on that occasion by saying he hoped to spend much of his time in the future encouraging young people to hone their skills in rural affairs developing policies in business and enterprise and to always remind them that they make a living by what they do but make a life by what they give.

Henry was a deep thinker and a capable wordsmith who had the rare ability to think outside the box and put careful words together on his own or take a brief on a specialist subject.

He was blessed with a strong and powerful voice, a true natural orator who presented his subject with conviction and authority and a thoughtful and convincing method of presentation.

I was lucky enough to meet him early on in his journey with N.F.U. I had become friendly with the man who, in the early 70’s, was chairman of the N.F.U. Livestock and Wool Committee, Jim McKeand, a farmer from the midlands whose family hailed from the Isle of Mull.

I’d got to know Jim through attending meetings with Government and found that we had a similar down to earth approach to things – perhaps it was the unsung alliance of the Gaelic and Celtic heritage at work. Jim and I were at Agriculture House in Knightsbridge in London and Henry was coming down the wide stairway in the foyer, Jim and Henry exchanged greetings and then I was introduced as the young chap who’d taken on the task of developing the National Sheep Association, I had my leg pulled for being involved in creating something just for sheep and then we settled down to a good discussion about farming and what needed to be done to ensure its success, I liked what I saw – Jim McKeand said he was convinced Henry was going to go a long way and before I took my leave Henry said to me quietly – ‘I’ve heard about you and your thoughts for the sheep business, you are getting a reputation of being a firebrand but I believe you and I are going to get on”.

He was right of course but how well we’d get on I had no idea and probably neither did he but get on we did.

Later in life he was to ask me to work with him in Europe as an MEP. It was one of the few asks I didn’t accede to, for my beloved sheep association wasn’t ready for me to move on. Later on in life and when he was contemplating retiring from the House of Lords he’d hit upon the idea of setting up an organisation to help young people get started in farming.

I felt it was an excellent concept and was thrilled to be asked to become a Trustee of what became ‘The Henry Plumb Foundation’. Underlying the idea was a will to create a living legacy to a man who’d started fairly close to the bottom of the pile, done outstanding things in the world of farming and politics and risen to be the only British person to have become President of the European Parliament.

A source of considerable and justifiable pride. Henry was in touch with farmers all over the world and used his contacts for the common benefit of farmers and people everywhere seeing food production as a key element of all farming activity and in reply to a question which was put to him during a recent talk which he gave in Coleshill identifying the fact that it might not be essential to have livestock in the UK countryside, he responded by saying that if the countryside is to be retained as an attractive constantly changing environment full of interest and supporting a vibrant and thriving structure of complementary communities delivering high quality natural food for local and global consumption, then he would have no doubt whatsoever that there would be a need for the countryside to carry appropriate numbers of livestock.

Livestock were very close to Henrys’ heart, one of the joys of being chairman of his Foundation is the excuse it provided to get him out on the farm to meet and talk to our scholars. We’d been able to help a young couple in the East Midlands to become tenants of a farm close by where they already had some land and a small steading. It wasn’t a great distance from Coleshill, an important consideration in view of Henry’s health. Having had an idea that we might pay them a visit, arrangements were made and in due course on 15th October 2020 we arrived in time for coffee before having a full tour of the farm. We were thrilled to find a well-structured set up which had clearly benefitted from a co-operative landlord and spent some time discussing the future, looking at some very well organised buildings before being taken along to see the cattle, a mixed herd of suckler cows and some very attractive Beef Shorthorn heifers which I noticed Henry kept drifting back to look at.

We had lunch took our leave and paid a visit to a sick friend in the vicinity before getting back in the car and returning to Coleshill. The journey provided time for the visit to be analysed, the new buildings which had been established around a new yard and then we got onto the cattle. He began, “I’ve always fancied having a small herd of Beef Shorthorns”, we had about three quarters of an hour to drive and by the time we’d arrived at his home, the whole thing was in embryo. Support had to be gathered from his son John and grandson in law Ben Symons and whereas that visit took place some two years previously Henry was delighted to see the beginning of the first crop of calves from his new herd of Beef Shorthorns arrive and talk animatedly about their quality.

What an approach to life even at the great age of 95 as he was when the idea was formed.

That though was a distinct part of the true measure of Henry. We have a good idea, let’s get on and do it. I like to think it’s one of the reasons we’ve got on so well. Central to so much of Henry’s life however was his love of people and his inner warmth which reflected in all sorts of ways. He really could and did mix with Kings and Queens and yet retain an unparalleled common touch.

Nor did it matter that they had a different view of politics. Lord Whitty of Camberwell the former head of the Trades Union Congress recalls the time he was first introduced to Henry at The European Parliament when he, Larry Whitty, was about to become Secretary General of the Labour Party. Introductions were made by Janie Buchan, at the time MEP for Glasgow, described by Larry as a formidable and unyielding anti conservative left winger and Secretary of a British Labour Group which at the time was largely anti EEC. Larry said she, Janie Buchan, went on to recommend Henry to him describing Henry as one of the nicest and straightest men in Parliament.

An accolade she was never known to have bestowed on any of her colleagues. Larry Whitty and Henry remained great friends for the duration. When one of his great grandchildren, Isaac, Lilly and Ben’s son decided he wanted a lamb for his birthday, no stone was left unturned to ensure that a nucleus flock of Ryeland ewe lambs with an unrelated Ram were in place for the breeding season.

Yet it was always his availability which with hindsight was the most remarkable. While he was President of Europe he also took the Chair of The National Cattle Breeders Association which I also ran and he always made time to discuss matters and would go the second mile always to ensure his constituencies were content.

Two matters stand out, the first when he was due to address a Press Conference to coincide with the opening of the Royal Smithfield Show. He’d missed his plane of choice and got to the Conference just as someone else was going to try to open the batting in his place. He came in apologised for being late and just took over.

The event went like clockwork and we had some great headlines.

The next time we had an issue was when we had to be in Aberystwyth and we’d been due to leave Heathrow at 3 o’clock – instead we left at 4 o’clock, broke a few speed limits and arrived at Aberystwyth with time to shower and change by 7 pm. Meanwhile Henry had talked all the way about what was going on in Europe and made no comment about the occasional tyre squealing in protest. That is until a few weeks later when I was in my office and took a call from Henry who was being driven down the German Autobahn at 250 kilometres per Hour in the Chauffeur Driven Presidential Mercedes. He thought I would be interested.

You will have gathered, I’ve had a huge regard and respect for Henry for a very long time. 50 years of friendship and association culminating in a virtually daily contact for the last 6 years or so embedded our mutual understanding in a relationship of trust which would be impossible to describe but which I know I will miss.

Henry Plumb was that rare man of stature and greatness who had a deep and abiding care for his fellows. He has left the means behind him for his care of others, particularly the young to be helped as they find their way in this incredible world.

The Henry Plumb Foundation is and will be a living legacy to one of the greatest men most of us have been blessed to know.

Henry himself was its greatest guiding light and trustees will need to have a constant regard to what Henry would have thought in any discussions.

He will never be forgotten and will go down in history alongside the other greats of farming, Coke of Norfolk, Jethro Tull, McCormick, Turnip Townsend, Robert Bakewell, the Luing Brothers, Bobby Boutflour and now Henry Plumb – what a man to have known.
 
I was fortunate to attend what was very much a celebration of a great man.
John Thorley's eulogy was a masterpiece of research with that perfect balance of historical fact and camaraderie remembered over the years.

They don't make them like Henry often enough.
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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