The farming community is mourning the loss of distinguished agricultural academic, professor John Alliston, who has been tragically killed.

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) announced with “great sadness” that Prof Alliston died on Thursday (8 June).

As a mark of respect, the flag was being flown at half mast at the Cirencester-based institution on Friday (9 June) and a minute’s silence was observed at 1.00pm.

See also: Professor John Alliston honoured with FW Lifetime Achievement Award 

In a statement, the university said: “John was part of the fabric of the RAU, a valued colleague and a loyal friend, full of enthusiasm and passion for life.

“We appreciate that this news will come as a terrible surprise to staff, students, alumni, and friends of the university alike, but we know that the RAU community will support each other at this very sad time.

“Our thoughts and prayers must be with John’s family at this incredibly difficult time. They have asked that people do not phone or make direct contact for the time being while they come to terms with their loss.”

Devoted to helping others

Prof Alliston devoted more than 50 years of his life to agriculture, research and education. He had a real passion for improving the lives of others in the industry.

Prof Alliston was awarded the Farmers Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award last year, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British agriculture.

Through the RAU, where he was emeritus professor of agriculture, he also ran the leadership and management courses for the John Edgar Trust and the Worshipful Company of Farmers.

Prof Alliston founded the Institute of Agricultural Management (IAgrM) leadership development programme, which first ran in 2002.

Passion for life

IAgrM said in a statement: “John was a such great friend to so many of us, being full of fun, enthusiasm and a passion for life.

“This very sad news will come as a terrible shock to so many. Our thoughts and prayers must be with Petey and John’s family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Arable farmer and FW Farmer Focus writer Andrew Blenkiron, estate director of the Euston Estate, in Suffolk, led farmer tributes.

“We are all very sad,” he said. “John certainly assisted me in a great many ways throughout my career.”

RAU has asked anyone with a message, email, card, or letter for Prof Alliston’s family to address the Alumni Office, who will pass them on via email at: alumni@rau.ac.uk or Alumni Office, Royal Agricultural University, Stroud Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 1WA.