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Obituary: Jim Whyte

By 10th October 2016July 27th, 2023No Comments

Former marketing and public relations manager at Fisons Fertilizers, Jim Whyte, a Retired Member of the Guild, died in August.

Jim forged a good working relationship with agricultural journalists and especially with members of the Guild as he helped establish the long-running journalism awards that continue today under the Yara banner. Jim, pictured in 2002 second from left seated, remained a regular at the Guild’s Harvest Service & Lunch thanks to his successor, Rosie Carne.

It was while studying at Newmarket Grammar School that Jim Whyte had his first taste of farming, tending pigs and chickens and helping to grow vegetables on the school’s smallholding.

He went on to study agriculture at Chadacre Agricultural College, where a report describes him as an “outstanding student who is keen and intelligent”. After passing with flying colours, Jim went on to gain practical experience on farms in Lincolnshire before serving his national service with the RAF as a flight mechanic. He spoke fondly of this time and it sparked an interest in flying.

Jim returned to agriculture, advising farmers on fertilizer and crop protection, while at weekends and holidays helping his parents run a butchers shop in Melbourn, Cambridge.

He met his wife Jane at local dances – they married in 1957 – and spent their honeymoon visiting farms throughout the north of England and Scotland in Jim’s trusty Land Rover.

By 1961, he was working for Fisons Fertilizers as a technical representative and supplemented his income by writing short stories for magazines. That may well have helped Jim get a job in the marketing department at Harvest House in Felixstowe, where he and his wife enjoyed life by the sea.

Jim went on to work in public relations forging relationships with the agricultural press, arranging conferences, writing articles for Farmers Weekly and other agricultural titles and producing Fisons’ in-house magazine. He took early retirement in 1989 but kept his hand in by doing some consultancy work.

Shortly after Jane died  in 2011, Jim’s eyesight began to fail. He had to give up gliding, although friends still took him up, and continued to enjoy twice weekly swimming at the pool in Felixstowe as well as holidays with his children and grandchildren. He even took up shooting and joined the Unscene Suffolk drama group, playing a wise old tortoise/grandfather in Alice Through The Magnifying Glass in a way true to his character, while looking very good in his plus fours as a farmer in Fossils.

His daughter says Jim did not let obstacles get him down: “He was always cheerful and positive and took what life threw at him. He was a great dad and granddad  and friend, with a hearty sense of humour; and he was a fighter until the end.”