Guild member Herman Simper, a Suffolk farmer and former machinery writer and commentator, died earlier this year aged 89. In the following obituary, his daughter and fellow Guild member Carol Twinch, recalls her father’s life.
Herman was an arable farmer for much of his life at Hoxne, near Eye in Suffolk, and machinery correspondent for the East Anglian Daily Times during the 1960s and ‘70s. He developed an interest in farming, writing and football from an early age and maintained his enthusiasm for all three throughout his life.
Herman Simper at home in Suffolk
Born in 1920 into a well-known farming family at Charsfield, Suffolk, Herman worked on the farm until he was aged 20 when he volunteered for the Royal Air Force.
He played football whenever he could, including for Aberdeen Football Club when he could persuade his colleagues to change shifts, and tried for a career in football once demobilised.
He had a trial as goalkeeper at Ipswich Town FC but turned down the chance to join the club when his father, unimpressed with such a short-term career choice, told him: “You can farm until you’re 90 but you won’t play football at 90”.
Herman’s farming career began in 1946 at Hoxne, first as a tenant and later as owner-occupier of over 800 acres in Hoxne, Stradbroke, Denham and Horham, where he restored a World War Two airfield to agricultural production.
When, in 1960, he was approached by Rintoul Booth, the newly appointed agricultural editor of the East Anglian Daily Times, to write a column on farm machinery, he jumped at the chance. From the beginning of 1961 until he wrote his last article for Richard Lee’s Tractor & Farm Machinery Trader magazine in 1998, Herman was a prolific writer and agricultural journalist.
Herman Simper with his wife during a visit to the Kubota
tractor factory in Japan in 1985
Herman was machinery correspondent for the EADT for 14 years but also wrote for several Farming Press titles, including Arable Farming. He always wrote from the heart and with a wide experience of his subject, often putting forward theories of his own and never afraid to have an opinion.
He was also a founder member, with Rintoul Booth, of a group known as The Agricultural Gentlemen for farming ‘types’ with literary leanings, which was presided over by Philip Wood, the former books editor at Farming Press.
His book Farmers Guide to Arable Machinery was published by Farming Press in 1977; the Eastern Daily Press called it a “mine of information, both technical and practical”. In retirement, he published a volume of autobiography, Farming Pursuits.
Despite filling various local and farming roles during his life, Herman’s most cherished membership was that of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. He supported the Guild wholeheartedly and enjoyed the companionship of other members at many county shows and, his particular favourite, the Royal Show.
Guild members can add their own recollections and tributes by emailing them to here.