Frank Holman

Frank Holman, a well-known and respected Norfolk countryman and gundog enthusiast, has died aged 69.

Frank Holman, a well-known and respected Norfolk countryman and gundog enthusiast, has died aged 69.

As a lad of 10, Mr Holman dreamed of becoming a gamekeeper on the Woodhall estate close to his home at Hilgay, near Downham Market.

When he left school five years later, he began work as keeper to the Spring Grove estate in Dorset, where he stayed until 1954.

Mr Holman then joined the Coldstream Guards Household Brigade, serving both in the UK and in Germany.

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During this period he met and married his wife Rita, and the couple went on to have three sons, Jim, Simon and Danny.

On leaving the Army, Mr Holman joined the Duke of Bedford's estate at Woburn as a beat keeper before returning home to Hilgay, where he was appointed head gamekeeper at Woodhall in 1960.

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He had a keen interest in training gundogs and over the years was involved in showing many champion black and yellow labradors, with one, Parphea Tide, taking the title of British Field Trials Champion.

A founder member of the Norfolk Gundog Club, Mr Holman was also a championship judge, officiating at events throughout the UK, Denmark, Switzerland and America.

A huge regard for wildlife and the environment remained central to his work and an active and full life, which revolved around countryside pursuits.

In 2000, he was awarded the Country Landowners' Association long service award in recognition of his 40 years as head gamekeeper at Woodhall, a post he continued to hold throughout his recent illness until his death.

When he received the award, he was quoted as saying: “I can truthfully say that this job has been all I have ever hoped.”

The Holman family have lived in the Hilgay, Ryston and Fordham area for many generations. Mr Holman's widow, sons and grandsons Ben, Ryan and Cody remain fully involved in the daily life of Woodhall.

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