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A farmer and a family man

George Philipson. Picture by Andrew Bryson
George Philipson. Picture by Andrew Bryson

Tributes have been paid to a highly-respected north Northumberland farmer who has died at the age of 56.

George Philipson, of Preston House, Chathill, died at home surrounded by his family on May 16.

A funeral service will be held on Tuesday at 1.30pm at St Mary’s Church, Lesbury.

George was a lifelong farmer.

He attended Lesbury Village School and later Haydon Bridge School, where he spent many happy hours at the school’s farm.

After leaving school, he went to Kirkley Hall Agricultural College and then home to the family farm at Town Foot, Lesbury.

He initially worked alongside his father Hugh at Town Foot and took over the tenancy of the farm in his early twenties.

In the late 1990s, the family moved to Waterside House, Denwick, when Northumberland Estates developed the farm buildings at Town Foot.

The family retained the land at Lesbury and farmed both farms until retiring from farming in late 2009.

His friend and advisor Eric Horsburgh described him as a perfectionist whose attitude was second to none.

“George always pushed to produce high-quality, high-yield crops, whether it be wheat, barley or rape,” he said.

“To achieve this, George set up his own winter wheat variety trial plots over a number of years so he could select which variety suited his land, producing the highest quality and yield. This was always his goal and he was never shy in adopting new ideas and techniques to achieve this.”

He described George as a great innovator, who even set about building his own self-propelled lighter-weight machine to travel over wet ground for fertiliser and chemical applications.

“It was his intention to go into production to develop these machines to sell on to other farmers to enhance his business but other farming activites took over,” hesaid.

“George was a great character and was well-respected in farming circles and the community. He will be sorely missed by all.”

George and his wife Debbie had three children and three grandchildren.

Mrs Philipson said: “He loved the challenges life offered him and nothing excited him more than a good business opportunity.

“George never ‘retired’, he continued to work and pursued other business interests, squeezing the maximum out of every day.”

He loved to visit Italy, Sicily, Spain and France, driving for miles across the countries with a well-planned route map and newspaper cutting bulging out of the glove compartment, taking in villages and small restaurants that he had read about and kept endless information on.

“He was never a man to give up on anything and this continued on into his ‘retirement’ and carried him through his illness,” said Mrs Philipson.

“He kept his good friends close and his family closer.”