Turf media supremo Mike Beardall’s death aged 62 shocked all working in groundscare, but while he was widely known for his work and was a familiar figure at events such as IoG Saltex, many in the sector do not know how he helped others in his spare time.
More than 100 people gathered at St Peters Church in his home village of Henfield, East Sussex yesterday to pay their respects and to celebrate his contribution to village life.
Beardall moved to Henfield within the last decade and quickly became a local figure. The gathering heard of his seemingly never-ending energy to support local charities in their fund raising activities – the church included.
Support included turning up with his camera and capturing events for the press, which he then placed, to organising events from scratch – like an annual late night shopping extravaganza near to Christmas.
It appeared that not one charity was overlooked from the British Heart Foundation to the local Friends of St. Barnabas Hospice – all were covered and reported on in the local newspapers.
A former local and national newspaper journalist, then magazine editor, Beardall was editor of The Groundsman magazine for 11 years and continued to work tirelessly to cover the sector through public relations and freelance writing for companies Rigby Taylor/Top Green, Speedcut Contractors, BLEC and DJ Turfcare and publications including Horticulture Week.
The memorial service heard from Beardall’s son-in-law who read from ‘What my Father taught me’ written by his wife, Beardall’s daughter Kate.
Fiona Gebbett, of PAN Publicity, attending the event said: "This summed up the Mike we all knew – never on time, always laid back – but one thing we didn’t know, ‘don’t walk backwards when flying a kite – especially near a cliff’. This actually happened to him and astounded the paramedics."
Other tributes were from his next door neighbour who recalled his all-consuming passion for a ‘good cup of tea’ and one of Gebbett’s relatives who related the tale of when she told him her Aunt Peggy lived in the village.
Beardall set about trying to find her, even standing in the doorway of the shop where she worked asking in a loud voice "who’s Auntie Peggy?". Once they met, they became friends and Beardall produced a steady stream of photographs and reports of the activities she got involved in around the village.
Gebbett added: "To a man all the tributes echoed our own in the industry – he will be very much missed."