Cheshire NFU has named Steve Wilkinson as its new honorary President – 49 years after his grandfather John Hough for whom the role was created in recognition of his services to the NFU as London delegate.
A former dairy farmer at Lower Feldy Green in Aston by Budworth, Steve (64) retired from farming (when he was milking 110 cows) in 1997 as a result of clinical depression. He swapped farming for a career in local government, representing Bucklow division on Cheshire County Council followed by a position as the representative for Knutsford and High Legh on Cheshire East Council.
Steve was chairman of Cheshire County Council between 2008 and 2009 – its final year before splitting into Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester.
It’s fair to say that Steve’s career in politics makes him one of the best connected Cheshire Presidents the NFU has ever been fortunate enough to have.
Currently, he is chairman of the Manchester Airport Consultative Committee, a trustee of Tatton Park Charitable Trust and plays an active part in helping ‘Hope Through Action’, which is a charity active in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Steve said: “I’m extremely proud of my involvement in Hope Through Action. Recently we’ve erected two sports centres for the people of the townships. This is a wonderful place for them to learn important life skills.”
Other roles Steve volunteers for include being chairman of Appleton Potato Mart - a charity set up on the dissolution of the old potato market which gives grants to people who want to study potato growing or marketing. He also chairs the executive of the Cheshire LEADER fund as well as being chairman of the Knutsford Royal Mayday Committee.
A member of Knutsford Methodist Church where he and wife of 41 years Brenda worship regularly, Steve is passionate about giving something back to the community.
A dad to three children (two daughters and a son), Steve is also a proud grandfather to eight children. His son James runs a very successful car finance company while his daughters remain in farming – Liz being married to Ian McGrath of Grange Farm in Over Peover and Catherine who is married to Ed Salt who is the Managing Director of Delamere Dairy.
A former winner of Cheshire farming’s prestigious Capesthorne Millennium Cup for his services to the entire rural community, Steve was a member of the North West Regional Committee of the Milk Marketing Board and a regional representative for Milk Marque having been Chairman of the Cheshire NFU Milk Committee. You can also add being a governor at Reaseheath College for 12 years (2000 to 2012) to his extensive CV.
Describing his pride at becoming the next NFU Cheshire President, Steve said: “It’s a huge honour and I’m delighted the role has come full circle back to me from my grandfather. I can clearly remember attending the lunch which was put on in honour of him at Crewe Arms Hotel. As a 15 year old I was somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion but it remains firmly in my memory.”