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A founder chairman of a leading Norfolk farmers’ buying group, Norman Salmon, has died peacefully aged 89 years at his home.

In a quarter of century, turnover of Mid-Norfolk Farmers grew from £6,700 to almost £9 million when he handed over the reins in February 1987 at the Phoenix Hotel, Dereham.

The buying group or co-operative was formed in the dining room of Hyde Hall, Fransham, by Mr Salmon and five friends in early 1962, who had a total of 5,520 acres. He was the only chairman of the group for the first 25 years and his wife, Irene, became the first secretary.

When it merged with Loddon Farmers to form Anglia Farmers on February 1, 2003, the group, then based at Gorgate Hall, near Dereham, had members farming a total of 111,000 acres. It has expanded rapidly in the ten years to 1987 and then continued to grow.

When the new group’s headquarters at Colton was officially opened in November 2008 by Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union, Mr Salmon’s pioneering contribution was recognised by the Salmon Room. Turnover, then approaching £150m had risen from under £40m just five years earlier.

Born in Essex, Mr Salmon, who went to Colchester High School, farmed at Hyde Hall, Rettendon, near Chelmsford, which is now the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden. He had moved from the 400-acre farm in 1955, as he later told the EDP: “My father and grandfather farmed near Chelmsford but I was keen to expand and land was cheaper in Norfolk in those days.”

When he bought High House Farm, Fransham, he had a pedigree herd of Landrace pigs, known by the prefix “Hyde Hall.” Anxious to keep this pedigree name, when his solicitor searched the deeds, it was discovered that the house had originally been called “Hyde Hall.” Apparently, a mid-19th century Fakenham tanner, Edward Case, had bought the estate and named his new home after his successful business.

Mr Salmon also formed a pea vining group, MAPPRO (Mitford Agricultural Produce), with other leading farmers. At one stage, it ran three viners freezing for customers including Frigocandia and Merton Foods, Watton.

As the farm expanded to more than 1,000 acres, it specialised in growing cereals for seed as well as grass seed. It is now run by his son, Robert, who has also expanded the original business.

Mr Salmon, who was appointed a JP on the Dereham bench in October 1970, served for many years.

He leaves a widow, Irene, and two children, Lorraine and Robert, and two grandchildren, William and Edmund. A daughter, Suzanne, predeceased.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at a later date.

Michael Pollitt

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