ROBIN Dennis-Jones, a leading figure in Suffolk’s farming community for nearly 60 years, has died aged 80.
During his career he worked in official capacities with the National Farmers’ Union, British Wool Board, Stanningfield Club, British Friesian Society, the Suffolk Show and Otley College, as well as playing a role in parish life and being a rugby referee.
Born in Cambridge on March 18, 1930, he was son of Precentor of Trinity College but chose a farming career. He started as a pupil at Chadacre Agricultural Institute then gained his National Diploma in Agriculture from Cirencester. He went back to Chadacre as a lecturer in 1952 and met his wife Elspeth, daughter of the then college principal.
As a first generation farmer, he bought the 160-acre Waldegrave Farm, Hartest, in 1954, beginning with 10 non-pedigree British Friesian heifers and 40 ewes bought with Elspeth’s life savings.
They moved to the 400-acre Park Farm, in Little Livermere, in 1961, though they kept Waldegrave Farm until the mid-1990s.
They bought the complete ‘Ongutein’ Hereford herd at Livermere and he and Elspeth were successful with their cattle at county shows.
Elspeth said winning the championship at Suffolk Show in 1997, their last year of farming, was a highlight for him.
He also ran annual ‘lambing Sundays’ where visitors could see up to 450 new-born lambs.
Elspeth said: “Robin was never content just to farm for himself. He gave lots of time, energy and experience for the good of the industry and particularly wanted to help aspiring young farmers.”
David Upton, a relief cowman at Waldegrave, said: “I am eternally grateful for the start in farming he gave me.”
Nick Fiske, who served on the NFU board with Robin, said: “We were all so proud of the work he did as chairman in representing his fellow farmers.”
Robin leaves Elspeth, three daughters and five grandchildren.
The family held a private cremation and a service of thanksgiving at Pakenham Church on Tuesday. They request donations to the farmworkers’ charity RABI, c/o A E Thurlow and Son, High Street, Ixworth, IP31 2HH.