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Tributes paid to pioneering farmer and tireless public servant Roy Kemp

PUBLISHED: 08:31 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:00 19 March 2020

Pioneering Norfolk farmer and tireless public servant Roy Kemp has died at the age of 88. He is pictured (centre) speaking a farm open day in the 1960s. Picture: Kemp family

Pioneering Norfolk farmer and tireless public servant Roy Kemp has died at the age of 88. He is pictured (centre) speaking a farm open day in the 1960s. Picture: Kemp family

Kemp family

Tributes have been paid to a pioneering Norfolk pig farmer who “completely revolutionised” his industry and worked tirelessly to serve his community.

Pioneering Norfolk farmer and tireless public servant Roy Kemp has died at the age of 88. Picture: Mary KempPioneering Norfolk farmer and tireless public servant Roy Kemp has died at the age of 88. Picture: Mary Kemp

Roy Kemp died at his home in East Harling after a long illness on March 12, aged 88.

Mr Kemp, who farmed at East Harling and Kilverstone, became known across the world for the practice and promotion of three-week pig weaning during the 1960s, and sharing his knowledge with producers from across the UK and overseas.

Working with the Tuck family, the Burston-based animal feed merchants, he helped develop a ground-breaking nutritional system for piglets which included introducing milk powder in a pellet form – reducing the weaning time from six to three weeks.

Alongside his farming career, Mr Kemp involved himself at all levels of Norfolk community life, serving as a county councillor in the 1970s, and from the 1980s onwards his roles included chairing the bench of Thetford Magistrates’ Court and working as an East Harling parish councillor and a Breckland district councillor.

He was also chairman of Norfolk’s Conservative Agricultural Committee for many years, and was part of the fundraising committees at Gresham’s School in Holt and Old Buckenham School in Suffolk, as well as being involved with Dunston Harriers and an active supporter of Thetford Chase Pony Club.

His son Neville said Mr Kemp was a “great man” who would be remembered for his farming innovations – but many would be unaware of the huge impact he had on his community.

“One of his main achievements was that in years gone by, pre-1970s, all pigs were weaned at six weeks, simply because they had not developed milk powder in a nut to be able to replace milk in a weaner. He devised, along with the Tuck family at Burston, a circumstance where they could rehydrate and replace the milk powder in a pellet form.

“This transformed pig production across the country and across Europe. Now everybody practices three-week weaning. It completely revolutionised the pig industry.

“He used to have several open days a year, where people would come from all over the world to see the system.

“He was also a great man for his family and the local community. He did huge amounts of work that people would never know about. He was responsible for the Breckland sports centre, and East Harling recreation ground was built under his management. There will be a lot of people who will never know how they have benefited from his work.

“But he never did it for the glory of it. He worked tirelessly in the background.”

Mr Kemp leaves a widow, Elizabeth, five children – Neville, Malcolm, Penny, James and David – 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

There will be a private family cremation service on March 23, but a planned Thanksgiving service due to be held at 2.30pm on the same day in East Harling has been postponed as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

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