An NFU stalwart has stepped down from her role following a sterling stint serving the farming community in and around Market Drayton and Whitchurch.
Staff, colleagues and friends paid tribute to Heulwen Charles, NFU group secretary, who completed more than 30 years and took early retirement last week.
Heulwen worked tirelessly on behalf of the NFU’s Market Drayton and Whitchurch branch helping farmers and growers tackle all sorts of issues from the devastating impact of foot and mouth disease to getting to grips with new legislation.
Her assistant, Becky Millard, has now been appointed as the new senior group secretary for the branch.
A leaving ‘do’ was held at the office, on Walkmill Road Business Park, Market Drayton, on Friday, October 1, which was attended by farmers, colleagues and NFU staff.
Heulwen said: “I am sad to leave but am looking forward to the future and wish to thank the branch, members and colleagues for their support over the years.
“Working on behalf of farmers and growers in north Shropshire has been a real pleasure.
“I am sure Becky will continue to look after NFU members and our NFU Mutual insurance clients and I wish her well in the senior post.”
Becky Millard said a simple ‘thank you’ did not do justice to the dedicated service Heulwen had provided.
She said: “I know we in the office will all miss her larger than life personality and kind heart.I am sure you will all join me in wishing Heulwen a long, healthy and happy early retirement.”
Calverhall dairy farmer Paul Dutton, branch chairman, said: “During the 31 years that Heulwen has been at the Market Drayton office, farming has had to face many crises, the major ones being BSE in 1989, foot and mouth disease in 2003 and 2007 and the on-going problems of bovine tuberculosis.
“She has consistently supported and advised members throughout these trying times, pressurised local MPs and spoken in the media on many occasions.
“Her no nonsense style has been both effective and appreciated by many.
“I wish Heulwen all the best for her well earned retirement.”
A further farewell will be held at the Tern Hill Hall Hotel, near Market Drayton, on October 23 at 7.30pm with a hog roast and a bar.
Tickets cost £17.50 and any proceeds from the event will go to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution farming charity, RABI.
Nigel Pearson, NFU business development manager, said: “Heulwen has done a sterling job on behalf of the branch and its members.
“We wish her all the best and send her our sincere thanks for all of her hard work, from sorting out member issues on a daily basis to leading the way at events like the Calverhall and Ightfield family fun day.
“She will be sadly missed but we welcome Becky to the senior post.”
By Joseph Masi