Former president of the East Kent Fruit Society Basil Neame CBE dies aged 88

Tributes are being paid to Basil Neame CBE - the "godfather of the fruit industry" who died on 25 February aged 88.

Neame's great knowledge of the fruit industry led him to take on many prestigious roles, including president of the East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) from 1989.

He also became vice-chairman of the Apple & Pear Council in 1989 and, in 1990, took on the role of vice-chairman of the East Malling Trust.

His colleague and former EKFS chairman David Simmons, said: "I would say is that his knowledge of all aspects of horticulture and fruit growing was unprecedented."

"He is going to be greatly missed by the fruit industry. He was a godfather to us.

"I waited for his addresses to the fruit society with great excitement as he always had something very pertinent to say."

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow added: "People had great affection for Basil as well as great respect for him - both as an individual and for his expertise in fruit growing."

Neame, the son of Sir Thomas and Lady Neame, began his extensive education at Cheltenham College before attending the Royal Agricultural College.

He then served, from 1941 until 1946, in the Royal Engineers and Madras Sappers and Miners in India, Burma and Malaysia - achieving the rank of Major at Bangalore.

He joined the family farming business in 1947 and in 1956 became chairman of the NFU's Kent branch.

Neame's other significant posts included becoming, in 1966, the first chairman of the Agricultural Training Board and, in 1978, the first chairman of the Kent Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

His vast achievements were acknowledged in 1970 when he was appointed CBE - but he continued to work tirelessly for the industry beyond this date.

He was Governor of Wye College from 1971 until 1987, for example - and also Governor of Hadlow College from 1959 until 1985.

A thanksgiving service was due to be held for Neame on 9 March at St Mary's Church in Selling.

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