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Obituary: Dedicated farming campaigner Lorna Richardson dies aged 82

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:20 30 August 2018

Farming campaigner Lorna Richardson has died aged 82. She is pictured receiving a bouquet from the late Bernard Matthews, then president of the Royal Norfolk Show, in 2001. Picture: James Bass.

Farming campaigner Lorna Richardson has died aged 82. She is pictured receiving a bouquet from the late Bernard Matthews, then president of the Royal Norfolk Show, in 2001. Picture: James Bass.

EDP © 2001

A driving force in promoting food and farming in Norfolk and further afield, Lorna Richardson, has died aged 82.

As a former Norfolk chairman of the Women’s Food and Farming Union (WFFU), she led a highly-successful series of campaigns to highlight the importance of quality, home-grown food.

For more than 30 years, she threw herself into the task of informing and educating young and older consumers alike. And her “Love It, Eat It” booklets, which were designed by her older son Andrew, were later taken up and distributed by national educational charities.

An enthusiastic young farmer, she was the first secretary to Thetford Young Farmers’ Club. Her husband-to-be David was chairman of Wymondham YFC, which was instrumental in the launch of the new club.

When the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs challenged members in 1961 to adopt a signature tune for the movement, Lorna wrote the tune for the “Song of the YFC”.

It was unanimously adopted at the federation’s annual meeting held in Central Hall, Westminster, in May 1963. She played the tune on a piano and sang the song when she was invited on BBC Look East alongside Acker Bilk, of “Stranger on the Shore” fame.

When Wymondham YFC staged its first of its successful, annual pantomimes in 1963, the talented pianist, who also taught many others, was always in demand to accompany the cast. As she brought up her young family, she maintained her strong links with YFCs and helped as a county rally steward and judge. She was also a mainstay of Hethersett village’s long-running fund-raising pantomimes.

After the WFFU was launched in 1979, she played a key role with Julia Duffield, who became national chairman, in forming a strong Norfolk branch.

When the Festival of Food and Drink was started by David Manning, of the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association, in 1996, she was his natural choice to cater for hundreds of guests with fellow volunteers of the WFFU branch.

And, many of the ideas launched at the Blickling events, which attracted as many as 7,000 visitors, including celebrity chefs, local sourcing and practical displays for food producers, were later adopted as part of mainstream consumer shows.

Her committee persuaded livestock producers and vegetable growers to support promotional events, which raised the flag for the food and farming industry. The WFFU branch also supported the Countryside Schools’ Days, which were held on Norfolk estates for many years, and brought thousands to learn about food, farming and the countryside.

When the Home-Grown Cereals Authority launched Farmhouse Breakfast Week, soon hundreds of children at schools across the county were enjoying freshly cooked bacon, eggs and toast, served by WFFU members and volunteers. For many, it was a first to eat a proper cooked breakfast at school.

The Norfolk branch was formally suspended in November 2013, shortly before the national organisation was wound up in 2016. The last chairman, Barbara Nelstrop, praised Mrs Richardson for her years of campaigning and hard work to promote home-grown food.

While also respected throughout the industry, she made friends across the world as she joined her husband on escorted tours for more than 25 years to see farming on all five continents.

She was married on January 16, 1959 and went on to share the challenge of establishing a new, successful family farm at Whiterails, Great Melton.

She is survived by her husband, David, two sons, Andrew and Robert, and Fiona, and three grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements to be announced.

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