As a talented musician, keen sportsman and very well-known farmer across North Riding and Durham, former NFU county chairman Bert Langthorne will be sadly missed following his death at the end of April.
A progressive dairy farmer and potato grower, Mr Langthorne is remembered as a ‘larger than life’ personality, well known for his popular machinery demonstration events in the 1980s – long before these became commonplace – and a decade later for diversifying into buffalo, deer, goats and even emu, after his grandson was born with an allergy to cows’ milk.
Former regional director, Richard Ellison, vividly remembers working with him during his chairmanship year, 1993, when the new ‘IACS’ system came in.
The forms were complicated and our open meetings attracted hundreds of farmers going through them line by line.
“In Bert's Northallerton branch we had to hold two meetings simultaneously in separate rooms in the Golden Lion to meet demand,” Richard recalls.
“He always had a healthy suspicion of authority at all levels and his dealings with civil servants, MPs and Ministers were robust to say the least.
“I particularly remember a feisty meeting with the then Minister, John Selwyn Gummer, when Bert told him to his face that his best course of action would be to resign!
“Of course the local media loved his candid approach – he could always be relied upon for a good quote even if sometimes he wasn't quite ‘on message’!
“He will be much missed as a very popular and straightforward member and county chairman.”