William White is stepping down as NFU South East Regional Director. The role, which he has held since 2005, has seen him supporting farmers on a wide range of issues.
He has worked with farmers in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, the Isle of Wight, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent.
Mr White joined the NFU after graduating from Seale Hayne Agricultural College in Devon in 1987.
‘If you cut William in half, it would say NFU’
“I’ve loved every minute of it,” Mr White said. “Farmers are great people to work for. They are good, honest, hard-working people and it has been a pleasure to have served them for so long.”
Mr White started his career as assistant county secretary in his native Hampshire and later worked as a technical adviser and senior policy adviser before succeeding Shaun Leavey as regional director.
NFU members joined Mr White’s family and past and current colleagues for a celebration of his career at Meon Springs in East Meon, Hampshire.
Mr White, who lives near Alton, recalled the challenges faced during his 36 years included salmonella in eggs, BSE, CAP reform, foot and mouth, SOS Dairy, and taking 4,000 farmers to protest at a Labour party conference.
“Farmers are great people to work for. They are good, honest, hard-working people and it has been a pleasure to have served them for so long.”
Former NFU South East Regional Director William White
He said: “I am proud of the fact that no matter how large or small the farmers’ issues are, if they need the NFU’s support, we are there for them. We are willing to take on anyone if the situation required it.”
NFU Director of Membership and Regions Kevin Pearce worked with Mr White for more than 30 years.
He said: “If you cut William in half, it would say NFU. He has a great understanding of, and affinity with our members and has supported many personally over the years.
“More than that, William has been a great friend and colleague to me and many others and we wish him all the best for the future."
NFU owes a debt of gratitude
Former NFU Vice-president, and past West Sussex County Chair, Gwyn Jones, said Mr White “put his stamp on things as regional director”.
"William has been very good at it and has managed to keep things on an even keel, appearing to glide along swan-like, when I know that there has been some furious leg work under the water at times,” Mr Jones added.
Director General Terry Jones called William a farming enthusiast, someone who took two weeks off during the summer so he could help with the harvest on local farms. He said the NFU owed him a great debt of gratitude.
Mr White said he is looking forward to having a break before considering his options for the future.