Obituary - Frederick William "Buddy" Mansfield, founder, FW Mansfield & Son

The start of the new top fruit season also marked the end of an area for the industry as Frederick William "Buddy" Mansfield passed away.

Mansfield founded the UK's largest growing and packing operation, FW Mansfield & Son. He died on 6 September, aged 88.

Crowds gathered at Canterbury Cathedral last month to pay their respects to Mansfield. He was known to many for creating a new optimism in the industry at a time when the UK was suffering a steep decline in the acreage of tree fruit grown.

FW Mansfield corporate affairs manager Mike Green said: "His influence encouraged more modern varieties, raised the quality standards and stopped what appeared to be the inevitable demise of the UK tree fruit industry."

He added: "It represents an extraordinary story of 'rags to riches' driven by a man whose exceptional work ethic never left him, even as he got older.

"Right into his 80s he could be seen around the farms in his red pickup truck or in the offices at Nickle Farm, helping out wherever he could, popular with staff and always with a ready smile and keen to talk about the business."

Mansfield was born in east London, the sixth of eight children. His father's untimely death meant that he and his siblings had to help their mother earn a living by running a greengrocers - being sent out to sell produce around the local area.

In the early 1940s he set up his own greengrocer business in Romford, where he built up a loyal network of produce suppliers. He soon branched into wholesaling before starting to grow crops with the purchase of a smallholding in Dargate, Kent, in 1968.

A few decades later, as the growth of multiple retailers proceeded, Mansfield and his son Paul, who now heads up the business, decided to concentrate on fruit growing. FW Mansfield & Son came into being in 1994.

Mansfield is survived by a daughter, his son Paul, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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