Conservative British farming champion and politician Lord Henry Plumb dead at age 97

A conservative British hero who championed farming and the agricultural industry, Lord Henry Plumb, passed away Friday at the age of 97, The Guardian reported.

A member of the right-leaning Tory party, Plumb attained the honor of serving as president of the UK’s National Farmers’ Union in the 1970s before entering politics, where he eventually became the only British politician to ever serve as president of the European Parliament from 1987 to 1989.

In addition to those honors, Plumb was knighted in 1973, served as chancellor of Coventry University from 1995 to 2007, was a member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1999, and served in Britain’s House of Lords until he retired in 2017.

Farmer turned politician

According to the UK’s Farmers Weekly, Plumb was born in 1925 to a farming family and was pulled out of school at age 15 in 1940 to help work on the family farm shortly after World War II erupted.

Just a dozen years later, Plumb took over the operation of the predominately dairy farm after his father died in 1952, but that was only the beginning of what would become a lifetime of achievement and advancement in farming over the remainder of his life.

He eventually joined the National Farmers’ Union and was quickly elected to its national council. By 1964 he had risen to be the NFU’s vice president, the youngest ever to hold that post at age 38, and was elevated to the NFU presidency in 1970.

Even after leaving that NFU post in 1979 to enter politics, however, British agriculture and farming remained his top priority and concern throughout his political career.

British farming’s “greatest ever advocate”

Current NFU President Minette Batters said of Lord Plumb’s passing in a statement, “Today British farming has lost one of its greatest ever advocates and the NFU has lost its greatest ever President.”

“There was no one more passionate about British farming than Lord Plumb and he remained a great champion for the sector throughout his life,” she continued. “He worked with a constant energy and determination to ensure the importance of farming was recognised by policy makers and continued to highlight the importance of the sector throughout his time in the House of Lords.”

“His impact on British farming during a career in agriculture and politics that spanned decades cannot be underestimated. His passion, dedication and sheer hard work on behalf of, and for, our industry was an inspiration to me and to many others,” Batters added. “He was a truly remarkable man. He was committed, fearless and the most charming man you could meet. His loss will be deeply felt and our sympathies are with his family at this sad time.”

Helping those who followed in his footsteps

Lord Plumb’s death was also marked with grief by his eponymous Henry Plumb Foundation, which he established to help assist and encourage younger generations to enter and excel at farming.

“We are saddened by the passing of our founder Lord Henry Plumb,” the foundation tweeted. “A remarkable man & great figure of modern times, his tireless work to improve the fortunes of the industry continued with his foundation into his 97th year. A huge life, his vision will continue.”

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