Pat Duffield: Tribute paid to leading benefactor

A grandson of the founder of Norfolk's leading independent animal feed firm, Pat Duffield, has died peacefully at home aged 90.

Born William Duffield but always known as Pat, he returned to the family business after serving during the second world war. Educated at Norwich School and later at Felsted, Essex, he joined the Royal Air Force and went to Canada to train as a pilot. Married to Leslie in 1943, they did not meet again for 16 months.

On the very morning he was due to obtain his wings, the Air Ministry in London telephoned to stop the further qualification of pilots. 'He was heartbroken but I wasn't,' said his widow.

He transferred to the Met Office for the duration. When he returned home, the mill, which was one in the group started in 1890 by his grandfather, William Lant Duffield, was in a terrible state. 'On our first night in the mill house at Saxlingham Thorpe we could see the stars through the roof. He put a tarpaulin over the hole the next day.'

Over the following decades, he was involved in laying the foundations of the group's expansion from 1970 into an efficient single mill at Saxlingham as smaller plants including Buxton and Tharston were closed.

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His drive, working alongside his brother Tony, who later became national president of the industry trade body, UKasta, saw the tonnage of animal feed and flour double. His brother, who was seven years his junior, died five months ago.

His nephew, Alastair Duffield, who now heads the family animal feed business, spoke of his 'extraordinary generosity' and support over many years.

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He took up many new challenges, including starting a healing centre at his Mangreen Hall home in the early 1970s. Over almost 40 years, it has evolved into a centre to nourish the mind, body and soul. And recently, about 1,000 visitors a week used the facilities as the Mangreen Centre has expanded its appeal.

Encouraged to help fund-raising for Muscular Dystrophy, initially locally, he was a national committee member in London for many years. He brought a barrel organ to the centre of Norwich, which raised significant sums over many years.

He helped to start the St Barnabas Centre in Norwich in the 1970s and continued to provide support. For many years, he was also a churchwarden at Newton Flotman.

Married for 68 years to Leslie, they were sent official greetings from the Queen on their diamond anniversary. He leaves three children, William, Philippa and Christopher, and nine grand-children.

A service to mark his life will take place on Saturday, November 12 at 2.30pm at Mangreen.

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