Many farmers and growers will recall Henry Plumb’s support for the industry during his time as NFU president in the 1970s, but how many remember he was also the first British president of the European Parliament – a major accomplishment that was largely unknown this side of the English Channel?
Current NFU president Minette Batters had the chance to highlight the life of Lord Plumb, who died last year, to a wider audience when she was interviewed for BBC Radio 4 programme Great Lives in January. Joined by his friend and former European Parliament colleague Richard Inglewood, Mrs Batters talked about his farming and NFU career, his contribution to European politics – where the Eurovision song contest was one of his responsibilities – and the personal support he gave her.
“He was a great inspiration, who wanted to help and always went the extra mile, even into his mid-90s,” she said.
He had a phenomenal memory for people and his charm persuaded them to get involved with all kinds of projects, said Lord Inglewood.
“You don’t get elected to president of the European Parliament unless they see qualities way beyond what he did for farming,” said Mrs Batters. “When I visit Europe he is still remembered very fondly as being such a capable leader. He was always proud of his European role and was beyond angry when we left [the EU].”
Lord Plumb’s achievements should be better known here, she said. “He was a brave man and great leader, and a good and kind man, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to record that.”
The programme is still available to listen to on the BBC Sounds website.
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