Respected sugar industry 'statesman' Robin Limb dies aged 62

Robin Limb, independent consultant with Anglia Rural Consultants.

Agricultural consultant, journalist and former British Sugar business manager Robin Limb has died at the age of 62 - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a knowledgeable and respected "statesman" for East Anglia's sugar farming industry, who has died at the age of 62.

Robin Limb died suddenly on February 8 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn after prolonged ill health, said his family.

Mr Limb, who lived in Hunstanton, spent 30 years working for British Sugar, where he was an agricultural business manager, before distributing his specialist industry knowledge as an independent agricultural consultant and freelance journalist.

A British Sugar spokesman said he was a "respected colleague of many here at British Sugar and a fount of knowledge on all things sugar beet".

Mark Culloden, who worked alongside him for more than 30 years at British Sugar before leaving to manage Suffolk-based sugar beet seed firm Strube UK, described him as "a statesman for the industry".

"He was a great orator, but on a social level he would love to sit at a bar and talk to anyone about anything," he said.

"He was so knowledgeable, and he was always keen to impart that knowledge. He was a friendly warm-hearted guy, a real gentleman.

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"He was the mastermind of British Sugar's '70 tonnes per hectare' project. Even when people laughed about it, he always believed in it and he travelled to Europe and the US to see what was possible with sugar beet yields and, sure enough, five or six years later the UK was starting to deliver 70 tonnes per hectare.

"That was Robin all over. If he believed in something he would stick with it until it was achieved."

Robin Limb (back row, centre) pictured with colleagues at a British Sugar team building event at Holmewood Hall

Robin Limb (back row, centre) pictured with colleagues at a British Sugar team-building event at Holmewood Hall - Credit: Tom Brown

Other colleagues paying tribute to Mr Limb included former British Sugar agriculture director Colm McKay, who said: "I have many fond memories of working closely with Robin at British Sugar over many years.

"His encyclopaedic knowledge and passion for the industry was clear to everyone. He was a major advocate for the beet sugar industry and all those involved."

And Dan Downs, head of agriculture at the Wissington sugar factory near King's Lynn, added: “I worked with Robin for 25 years and he was always one of the most helpful colleagues I have had the pleasure to work with.

"He was supportive to newcomers to the sugar industry and was an inspiration to them as his wealth of knowledge was vast of UK agriculture. I first worked with him on sugar beet trials, his sense of humour was always very welcome on a wet cold winter's day."

Mr Limb grew up on his family's farm in Nottinghamshire before moving to Norfolk to join British Sugar after gaining his agricultural degree.

His family said he had not been in the best of health for some time, but he became very ill with broncho-pneumonia last weekend and, despite the best efforts of hospital staff, he was unable to overcome the infection.

His brother, Richard Limb, added: "It was a huge shock and he will be sadly missed; we now have a huge gap that can never be filled.

"It is a comfort to know that he was held in such a high regard and considered a friend to so many."

Mr Limb was described as a loving husband to Wendy and a much-loved father to Rebecca, Thomas, Bryony and Philippa and grandfather to Alexander. A memorial service will be held at a later date. For further information call 07456 802211 (friends and family only).

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