George Richardson was a sheep farmer and a very forward looking one at that.
He had been NFU Kendal Brach Chairman in 1971 when the minutes show that ticket prices for the annual dinner were to be £1.10p.
As early as 1973 he would have an ‘Open Farm’ day at Borrans welcoming members of the public, and together with fellow members of the branch committee, would try and educate them on the ways of farming.
He was also incredibly supportive of other sectors of farming which might be facing problems at any particular time.
In 2012, when dairy farmers were suffering a particular low milk price, and there have been many of them, George joined with a number of others to modify a tractor loaned to the NFU branch by a local dealer. They made it look like a dairy cow and marched alongside it, with much publicity, from Kendal all the way to the Houses of Parliament.
Word came through from NFU headquarters that ‘it was not felt that such a march would be helpful’ but unperturbed, the group carried on, to be met by the NFU President on their arrival in London - mainly due to all the publicity the march had received along the way.
However, the event that George most enjoyed being involved in was the annual Torchlight Procession. The first mention I could find in the branch minutes was in 1977, they missed the years 1992 and 1993, but then started again in 1994.
Planning for the next one started almost as soon as the present one was over. Not only was George involved on the night – playing the part of many children’s book characters, but also played a very large part in the creation and building of the various floats.
A couple which come to mind are one where we used a quad bike, disguised as Thomas the Tank Engine, pulling two modified flatbed Ifor Williams trailers as Annie and Clarabelle through the streets of Kendal. George had so much equipment in the back of his truck when he turned up, that he was soon christened Mr Screwfix.
The one I remember most of all was again, using a quad bike. This time it was converted into the Postman Pat van on the rear of a T K Robinson low loader.
The van proceeded to drive backwards and forwards over a small bridge in our very own Greendale as the low loader was driving around the streets of Kendal.
All events and activities carried out by local NFU branches are covered for insurance purposes by NFU Mutual, but regional underwriters had to be informed when motor vehicles were being used to ensure the correct cover was in place.
I spent many an hour over the years trying to convince them that the activities being carried out by members were all correctly risk assessed and safe - in inverted commas.
In this production of Postman Pat, George played the part of Ted Glen, whom I’m sure you’ll all remember was the village handyman with his own workshop. Quite appropriate I’m sure you’ll agree. Now if you look at any picture, you’ll notice that Ted Glen has an exceptionally large bushy, very black moustache. When George turned up at Kendal Leisure Centre on the night, we were all amazed to see that he’d come in the character part and had dyed his beard a very dark black.
Over the years, George gave up a tremendous amount of his time for the benefit of others, whether it was as the local chairman of the ACT buying group, membership of Ambleside Discussion Group, his involvement with Ings Annual Sheepdog Trials to turning out to help with NFU ‘Ask me I’m a Farmer’ events like the one we held on the Glebe at Bowness-on-Windermere in the year following the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak.
George was always one of the first to volunteer. He spent many hours travelling to Bradford for meetings of the British Wool Marketing Board for which he was the local representative for many years. George was involved in so many other organisations which are far too many to list here.
George had a very long and happy association with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution charity having served as county chairman of the Cumbria fundraising committee for many years.
He became the very first RABI County President in the UK and right up until his death, was still involved in anything to do with RABI in Cumbria.
George was a man who touched many other people’s lives and will be greatly missed.
Rest in peace George.