The Guild has received news from his daughters Helen and Kirsty that Neil Ryder, a freelance Member, died suddenly on February 8.
Ben Briggs, editor of Farmers Guardian and BGAJ chairman, said: “Neil was a respected member of the FG team for many years and was an excellent writer of both news and features. He was still a regular freelance contributor to FG and his death comes as a huge shock.”
In recent years, Neil has worked freelance as a journalist, photographer and PR writer, mainly in the rural sector covering agriculture in particular, handling a cross-section of work, including scientific and technical topics, especially biosciences, for publications, sheep and cattle breed societies and commercial organisations.
Neil was brought up in farming, trained in general journalism and studied applied biology before taking up a post with Farmers Guardian. He was Wales correspondent for 15 years, covered the north of England and Scotland and was features editor for a time.
During his first stint as a freelance he was shows and sales editor for Farming News and more recently Neil contributed content on sheep to The Northern Farmer, farm features to Farmers Guardian and stories on livestock topics to the 5M Publishing websites.
The Guild sends its heartfelt condolences to Neil’s family and friends.
Any Member or Friend of the Guild who knew Neil and would like to share their recollections of him can email them to Peter Hill.
Trevor Hayes: Although I did not know Neil very well, I would bump into him at various events and it was obvious he knew what he was talking about. He also came to interview me when I was head of press and public relations at the NFU in the 1990s. Sadly, another journalist of long-standing has now departed this earth. My condolences go to his family.
Michael Finch: I worked with Neil for many years on Farmers Guardian. When I was a new reporter, Neil and colleague Kenneth Bowe worked from our regional office in Gresty Road, Crewe next door to to the auction mart. Those were the days when regional reporters kept as far away as possible from HQ and could be trusted to deliver. Neil and Ken did that and much more.
FG old timers had an annual get together last November; we had a good natter and Neil was on top of his game. He was keeping fit (at the gym) as he always did, so the news of his death was a shock.
Afterthought: FG had been running conferences for pig farmers for many years, staged at York racecourse, but when disease intervened one year I asked our IT folk if we could do something on-line. IT said they were too busy and it would take six months.
I spoke to Neil, always the techie, and he suggested we put mug shots of speakers along with their papers on-line. Then invite farmers to respond/question with speakers being available to respond on the day.
Result: Around 200 farmers responded. I’d asked Neil to to make it work with no more than three mouse clicks; he delivered it in three weeks.
Jenny Thompson (MD Newsquest Lifestyle): “We were very saddened and shocked to hear of Neil’s death. He was a great character, a highly valiued member of our team and was instrumental in the successful development of The Northern Farmer. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”
Andrew Hitchin (editor, The Northern Farmer): “Though I had only dealt with Neil for a few weeks, I was immediately struck by his friendly and welcoming approach, and I was impressed because he was absolutely bubbling with enthusiam and ideas.”