Haulage handover at Euston Estate is a tale of loyalty and continuity
- Credit: Archant
After 45 years of loyalty to an East Anglian estate, a sugar beet haulier has handed over his trucking legacy to the contractor who harvests the farm's crop.
Billy Cornell has been carting beet from the Euston Estate, near Thetford, since 1971. In those days, his annual bill for the season was £804 to haul about 700 tonnes. Last year, he charged £49,000 for transporting 16,000 tonnes.
But now the 66-year-old is retiring from his life's work, passing the haulage responsibilities on to Jeremy Green, a contractor who has been harvesting sugar beet at Euston since 2010.
As well as allowing Mr Green to add another aspect to his growing business, farm managers said it preserved the expertise and continuity needed to manage winter harvesting operations alongside the sporting demands of the traditional shooting estate.
Mr Cornell, from Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, said: 'Haulage has always been in my family and I have always enjoyed it. I have never really considered anything else. It is all I have ever done, and all I have ever really wanted to do.
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'I have met some lovely people and seen a lot of changes in the sugar industry – not always for the better, but that's life.
'I have worked with Jeremy for several years – we work well together and he has taken two trucks off me and my driver Paul, who has been with me for nine years, so it is good because I don't have to worry about him not having a job.'
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Mr Cornell said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife Christine and their five grandchildren during his retirement.
Euston's farm manager Matthew Hawthorne said: 'Our earliest record of Billy working here is in 1971. In all those years of service we have never even had a query on a bill.
'He has come through all the highs and the lows of the sugar beet industry without ever having a crossed word with us. That is the perfect business model we want to progress with.
'It is all about quality of service and mutual respect, and for me it is not just about the cheapest price per tonne. It is about minimal disruption to the farm and to the winter business of the estate.'
'Because Jeremy comes shooting on the estate, he knows the impact of the sugar beet operations on the pheasants, and the importance of how the winter operation needs to work around the shoot.'
Mr Green has bought two of Mr Cornell's lorries and taken on one of his long-serving drivers to work for his expanding business, based at Bressingham, near Diss. He said it was a logical decision to take over Mr Cornell's haulage work.
'Logistically, it possibly makes the job a little bit easier because Matthew and I are talking regularly about harvesting dates and he would have had to dovetail that with Billy to plan the deliveries,' he said. 'I had thought about it in the past, but this has given me the opportunity to do it.'
Estate owner the Duke of Grafton said: 'From the family's point of view Billy has worked loyally for the FitzRoy family for three generations and I know my father and grandfather would be extremely grateful for all the service he has given Euston for all of those years.'