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David EdgarDavid Edgar

Published on 29th May 2010

Agricultural journalist and photographer C David Edgar, a Guild member for much of his career, died recently at the age of 84.

In a writing career spanning more than 50 years, David Edgar wrote for the Newark Advertiser, Nottingham Guardian Journal, Nottingham Evening Post, Farmer & Stockbreeder and Farmers Weekly, as well as many other publications. He also wrote books and provided public relations services to The Newark and Nottinghamshire Show for more than 50 years and for the Country Landowners Association, as well as commercial enterprises.

He was still writing his monthly Danelaw column for the Newark Advertiser well into his eighties.

Less well known was his voluntary support for many organisations connected with the industry, including the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), and the matter closest to his heart – the education and development of young people.

David Edgar

Many current farmers in the East Midlands have benefitted from his advice and, for some of them, a quiet loan to their business when times were hard. One of his greatest achievements was sponsoring a young woman from war torn Bosnia through a degree in Microbiology at Nottingham University, a PhD at Pittsburgh University and on to a Post-Doctorate at Harvard.

The outbreak of war when he was a young man led David towards a career associated with farming – he chose at that time to work on the land rather than the alternative of working in a coal mine – and joined the YMCA’s British Boys for British Farming scheme.

He ploughed with horses, milked cows and took on general farm work on farms in Derbyshire and later was transferred to Nottinghamshire where he met his future wife, Women’s Land Army girl Betty Vickerstaff.

David joined the Home Guard and became chairman of the local branch of the National Union of Agricultural Workers, and in 1946 won a Malcolm Stewart scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford on the basis of on an essay on Policy for British Agriculture – his first serious agricultural writing.

After studying for an Oxford Diploma in Economics and Political Science, he was appointed agricultural adviser to the West Riding Education Committee, giving classes at Skipton Technical College and in Hebden Bridge, as well as visiting schools to set up mini-farms based on four crop rotations plus livestock.

In early 1950, he added the role of Notts Young Farmers Club organiser to his CV and made many lifelong friends over the five years he was there, after which his writing career started in earnest with a part-time post composing the agricultural pages in the Newark Advertiser, while also working as a representative of Gilstrap Earl & Son, a maltster and feed producer in Newark.

He was instrumental in starting new local editions of the Advertiser in Ollerton, Calverton, Bingham and Radcliffe, and wrote many millions of words himself, including special agricultural supplements on a regular basis.

He was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal in 1977 and the first Notts NFU John Nullis Memorial Award for Service to Agriculture in 2003. In the Guild’s Golden Jubilee year – 1993 – he won the Stewart Seaton regional journalism award.

Guild members who would like to add their own recollections and tributes can email them here.

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