Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Obituary: Long-serving Royal Norfolk Show steward Trevor Meen was a farming champion

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:14 12 January 2018

Trevor Meen with cattle at ER Spratt Ltd's farm in Necton.

Trevor Meen with cattle at ER Spratt Ltd's farm in Necton.

A former supreme champion farmer and long-serving steward of the Royal Norfolk Show, Trevor Meen, has died aged 83.

Trevor Meen (left) at the 2015 Royal Norfolk Show.  Photo: SONYA DUNCAN Trevor Meen (left) at the 2015 Royal Norfolk Show. Photo: SONYA DUNCAN

For almost 70 years, he was involved with the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), starting as a junior steward in 1951 – the year before the permanent Costessey showground was acquired.

When he retired after 20 years as head steward for trade stands and showground services in 2004, he was made an honorary vice-president.

His 80th birthday became a “royal” occasion when he was invited to luncheon on the first day of the 2014 show with the RNAA president, the Earl of Wessex, who joined members and guests to sing him “Happy Birthday.”

Born at Maytree Farm, Wattlefield, near Wymondham, he went to Bunwell village school and then to Old Buckenham. A chairman of Wymondham Young Farmers’ Club where his older brother John had been a founder member, he was a keen hockey player for Norfolk YFC and with Attleborough.

Trevor Meen with cattle at ER Spratt Ltd's farm in Necton. Trevor Meen with cattle at ER Spratt Ltd's farm in Necton.

A farmer’s son, he branched out into contracting and especially spraying.

His farming career was distinguished by success. A director of the family business, ER Spratt, of Necton, near Swaffham, he won the 16th Norfolk County Farm Business competition’s supreme championship in 1994. Three years later, the then 1,000-acre arable and livestock enterprise, and its 260-cow elite Holstein Friesian dairy herd, won the supreme title again. Despite losing 98 pedigree milkers to a BSE (or mad cow disease) slaughter policy, top-quality replacements were bred again and the herd regained its high-flying status. By September 1998, it had five of the country’s top 16 heifers, although the herd was later sold as the exodus from milk production in the eastern counties gathered pace.

The farm, which had 73 acres of woodland including one of the county’s finest stands of maturing oak, took Norfolk’s reserve supreme title in 1995, 1996 and finally in 1999. Conservation was also important as ponds were created and restored and trees and hedges planted.

Determined to leave the land in better heart, he enhanced the fertility of the soil recognising the importance of farmyard manure in helping to boost yields.

Trevor Meen (left) at the 2015 Royal Norfolk Show.  Photo: SONYA DUNCAN Trevor Meen (left) at the 2015 Royal Norfolk Show. Photo: SONYA DUNCAN

He had started his show career at Keswick Park, near Norwich, when the Royal Norfolk Show moved around the county. After starting in traffic and car parks, he became a showyard steward in 1965. Elected to the RNAA’s council in 1975, he hardly missed a meeting during the next 43 years.

Promoted to assistant head steward in 1982 for trade stands and showground services, he completed 53 years of stewarding duties. His son, William, is now a joint head steward in the same section.

He was instrumental in broadening the social and membership side of the RNAA’s activities. He worked with a small group of senior members and head stewards to launch the show ball, which has since raised hundreds of thousands for charities in the past three decades. Other activities including the harvest festival and visits to estates have also become important too.

A supporter of farming’s charity, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, he was a founder member of the west Norfolk fundraising committee. A member of the county committee since 2010, he always played a constructive role.

He was a very good shot and enjoyed fishing, and especially for salmon in Scotland on the River Tay for many years. Later, he fished the same beat for 20 years in the Borders – where he saw his granddaughters land their first fish.

Closer to home, in 2005 Mr Meen became chairman of a revived management committee to improve and expand Necton village hall. Built in 1962 at a cost of £4,000, it needed significant improvements. Under his leadership, a £100,000 project was completed by 2008.

He leaves three children, Suzanne, twins Julie-Anne and William, and two granddaughters, Henrietta and Lily. He is survived by an older brother, John.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at All Saints, Necton, on Wednesday, January 24, 2pm.

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