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Mike Myhill: Keen beet grower and Norfolk farm manager

PUBLISHED: 13:15 04 March 2011

A long-serving East Norfolk arable farm manager, Mike Myhill, has died aged 75, a fortnight after celebrating his golden wedding anniversary.

After leaving school at the age of 14, he worked for the Purdy family at Green Farm, Paston, near North Walsham, for 45 years.

Born in Paston, he went to Edingthorpe School and left North Walsham Secondary Modern School to work on the land.

Stanley Brian Myhill, or Mike to his family since school days, was known in the farming community as Brian. His employer, Tom Purdy, suggested the name change to Brian to avoid confusion because his father, Stanley, also worked on the farm. And two other members of the Myhill family, his brother, Robert, and a cousin, Jimmy, were on the pay roll.

When Brian started work, his father was team man in charge of the heavy horses. As a boy, he used to drive Tom Purdy around the farm in a pony and trap.

As tractors replaced horses, he drove the farm’s lorry and carted pea crops to Westwick, near North Walsham, where the static viners were based.

He became a keen sugar beet grower, encouraged by Mr Purdy’s son, also Tom, who was a fieldsman for British Sugar’s Cantley factory. Promoted foreman and later farm manager for Tom’s daughter, Elizabeth, he won Stalham Farmers’ Club’s annual sugar beet competition in 1992.

While the all-arable farm had a small acreage of soft fruit including strawberries and some gooseberries, cereals, sugar beet and vining peas became the most important crops.

Mr Myhill was part of the farming revolution as hand labour gave way to tractors and ever bigger machinery. He took great pride in growing more food from the land and lived for farming. He was sad when a neck injury resulted in his retirement five years earlier than expected.

He was first elected to Paston Parish Council in 1963, serving for about 30 years, where his employer, Mr Purdy, was chairman.

A keen sportsman, he played football for Bacton FC and later cricket, also with his son. He enjoyed golf, playing at Mundesley and later at Cromer.

For about 30 years, he played darts at the Duke of Edinburgh at Bacton and represented Norfolk in the super league.

He leaves a widow, Trina, and two children, Adrian and Lorraine, five grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

A funeral service will be held at St Margaret’s Church, Paston, tomorrow, at 11.30am, followed by interment.

Michael Pollitt

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