A centre of the community for more than half a century, Breckland farmer Mary Huggins, has died aged 93.

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She also ran the farm, which has been in the family since 1888, after the death of her father, Harry, who was a special constable for more than 50 years.

After school at Little Ellingham, she went to Thetford Girls’ Grammar School and then tackled almost every task on the land.

In the days before tractors, running water or electricity, it was always a challenge and plenty of hard work growing cereals, beet, beans and rearing sheep, cattle, pigs and turkeys.

During the second world war, the family took in evacuees and later welcomed American servicemen, who were based at Deopham Green, where she helped in the canteen.

She was a pillar of the community, serving as secretary to the local women’s institute and later as president, a position she held for 20 years.

For more than 50 years, she was secretary to the parochial church council of St Peter’s, Little Ellingham, and was a member of the parish council, village hall committee and a trustee of Goose Common. In 1997, she was commended by the British Red Cross Society for meritorious service.

A fund-raiser for community and local causes, she had a leading role in helping the village to buy the school, when it was closed in 1970.

It became a village hall, the forerunner to Little Ellingham’s present Old School Hall.

She laid the foundation stone in 2005. Her memories of farming and domestic life in the last century are recorded and stored on CD in the Norfolk Record Office.

And more recently, she took part in Paul Heiney’s ITV series, Wartime Winter, and a documentary about Deopham Green.

A funeral has taken place.

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