Hundreds pay tribute to SOS Dairy campaigner Andrew Hemming

Hundreds of farmers paid their respects at a memorial service to SOS Dairy campaigner Andrew Hemming on Thursday (3 January).

It was standing room only as some 500 people crammed into St Mary Magdalene church, Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire.

Mr Hemming, who was vice-chairman of the Farmers For Action pressure group, died suddenly on 15 December. He was 54.

He played a prominent role in last summer’s SOS Dairy protests which resulted in supermarkets and  processors to increase the price they pay farmers for milk.

Reverend Marc Catley, who conducted the service, said Mr Hemming’s campaigning had touched the lives of farmers “up and down the country”.

Eulogies were delivered by June Hemming and Farmers For Action chairman David Handley, who worked with Mr Hemming for eight years.

Mr Handley described Mr Hemming as a remarkable man and a campaigner always willing to listen to other farmers’ problems.

Mr Handley recalled the time that the two men had an appointment to see DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman in Warwickshire.

Driving out of the farm on the way to the meeting, Mr Hemming had stopped to attend to some livestock – only to end up with manure on his hands and trousers.

Mr Handley suggested his colleague might want to take a wash before meeting a top politician. But Mr Hemming refused, adding: “It is important for her to smell what she represents.”

Referring to last summer ‘s milk price talks between farmers and processors, Mr Handley said Mr Hemming had proved himself to be a formidable negotiator.

“In the last 12 months, he showed us exactly what he was made of. He was always ‘to the point’ and ‘get the message’.”

Without a fair price for milk, Mr Hemming knew that the dairy industry would not attract the young farmers it needed, said Mr Handley.

He added: “The industry has lost a massive friend, the industry has lost an massive ambassador and David Handley has lost a massive friend.”

Mr Hemming’s coffin was carried out of the church to the music of the SOS Dairy song, which became an anthem for farmers campaigning for better milk prices.

A private cremation was held following the memorial service.

Donations in lieu of flowers were invited for Farmers For Action and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution via Thomas Bragg & Sons, 562 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull B90 4AY.

More on this topic

Shock at death of FFA’s Andrew Hemming

Keep up to date with the latest on the milk crisis


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