Don Gomery, one of the UK’s most respected and longest serving agricultural journalists, has died. Here, James Campbell, northern editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, pays tribute to him.
The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists has lost one of the most dedicated and experienced members of its executive committee, with the sudden death of Don Gomery on 1 April 2010.
He was a good friend and colleague, a thoughtful person with a sharp intellect and strong sense of humour.
Anyone who met him would have found it difficult to guess Don’s age. Having passed “normal retirement age” during the 1990s, he maintained a youthful zest for life, work, travel and social interaction.
Less than two weeks before his death, Don had seemed indestructible. It is no wonder, therefore, that his passing has come as a great shock to all who knew him.
He collapsed at home just four days after coordinating the annual general meeting of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Great Britain, of which he had been honorary secretary for 26 years. He died in hospital 11 days later.
Don was a mainstay of the British Guild. As its representative on the executive committee of the IFAJ, he was a positive contributor of time and talent.
His wise counsel was seen in his service on sub-committees and as chair of the professional development committee, a role he took up without hesitation when called upon by colleagues. He also served as one of the honorary auditors of IFAJ.
Apart from committee work, Don’s ready wit, his fantastic memory and willingness to share his experiences with other journalists were always evident at IFAJ events. Perhaps these exchanges helped keep him “young at heart”.
Don was an excellent ambassador for his Guild and for his country. He provided an exemplary link between the British Guild and IFAJ, bringing the best of British ideas and experiences to international gatherings and faithfully communicating IFAJ matters to Guild members. In recent years, he made extensive use of email.
A perfectionist, particularly in relation to accuracy and syntax, Don expressed his views in a clear and deliberate manner. With English being used as the “working language” in meetings of the IFAJ executive committee – bearing in mind the varying command of English by people from different countries – his clarity was an asset. It served as an example to others.
The son of a Fleet Street journalist, Don went to the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester to study agriculture and started as a farm journalist with Dairy Farmer magazine, a title that he subsequently edited. He went from there to Farmers Weekly where he was European and political correspondent and eventually Deputy editor.
He then moved into public relations with Pharo Communications where he worked on a number of national accounts. In recent years he had been Editor of the Journal of The Farmers Club, a prestigious organisation within UK agriculture. He also wrote for various titles on a freelance basis.
In all of this, he proved to be an extremely capable, fair and gentlemanly player. In the terms of that English game of cricket, he had a long innings and a jolly good one.
His period of illness was mercifully short but this means that Don’s passing has come as a great shock. We appreciate that the pain of that shock is felt particularly by his wife Pauline and family, to whom we extend sincere sympathy.
• Compiled on behalf of the Presidium of IFAJ