Award-winning Norfolk farmer dies

Award-winning north Norfolk potato grower and classic farm machinery enthusiast Paddy Randell has died at home aged 65 after a long illness.

He was regarded by fellow growers as one of the most dedicated and professional, who would leave no stone unturned in his quest to grow and then store the perfect crop at Beech Farm, Skeyton, near North Walsham.

He and his brother Tom won the national title in 2005 as Glenthorn Grower of the Year. And they were also presented with the championship award for malting barley in 2000 at Holt & District Farmers' Club.

Patrick Edward Randell, always known as Paddy, went to Bracondale School, Norwich, but could not wait to return to the family farm, which was always his first love. It was always immaculately tidy under his stewardship.

While he enjoyed the challenge of having vintage machinery restored, his razor-sharp mind was always willing to adopt the latest potato-growing and storage technology. A progressive farmer, he travelled extensively in Europe and even North America to look at new potato machinery and techniques.

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His expertise at storage of potatoes and attention to detail was also renowned. The family farming partnership was recently ended so that the business could concentrate on the storage side.

He enjoyed 'fiddling' with old machinery, including tractors and sugar beet harvesters. A highlight was bringing together nine vintage combines, with a combined age of 428 years to harvest eight acres of winter wheat at Grove Farm in September 2009. Naturally, he was at the wheel of a tractor pulling a 1961 Claas SF combine, the only one still in existence.

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Paddy, who was always happiest on the farm, was always the first prepared to help village causes and people without making any fuss. He was a parish councillor for many years.

It took some persuasion to escape the farm but he found a second home in Gibraltar, where he spent much time.

He will be buried at All Saints, surrounded by the land that he farmed.

He leaves a widow, Avril and daughters, Lou and Clementine.

A funeral service will be held at Skeyton Church, near North Walsham, on Saturday, February 26, at 2pm.

Michael Pollitt

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