Patrick Lewis Russell MBE, FRAgS. (Marledge)

POPULAR local farmer and widely-respected community figure, Patrick (Pat) Russell passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday morning, September 20, surrounded by his family, at the age of 93.

Born at Yerbeston Farm, Maidenwells on July 16, 1928, the young Patrick soon developed a passion for farming which was to last a lifetime.

His early education, first at the Coronation School in Pembroke Dock from the age of nine, and later at Pembroke Dock County School to which he earned a scholarship merely marked a postponement in his plans to enter the world of agriculture full-time.

Although his mother had fostered plans for him to study at Aberystwyth University when he left school, her death when Pat was just 13 prompted a rethink and much to his delight, from the age of 15, he was allowed to stay working on the farm (owned by the family since 1838).

Initially, the teenage Pat had been given permission by his father to raise four calves but through his unrelenting dedication, this modest beginning was followed by a steady expansion of his share of the business, extending first from 3 ½ to 10 acres and ultimately to the two-farm ‘portfolio’ he developed over the decades that ensued. Indeed by the time Pat officially retired, he was proud to declare that the beef and dairy enterprise, and milk retail business he had built had accumulated ‘1,000 milk customers, 1,000 cattle and 1,000 acres’.

Pat was, however, not only a highly successful farmer in the county but he also occupied a number of senior roles in a variety of agricultural organisations.

Amongst the many posts of responsibility he held, he was local, then county chairman of the NFU, chairman of the NFU’s Milk Committee for Wales, president of the Pembroke Rotary Club (as well as a member for almost 50 years), chairman and later president of the Pembroke Farmers’ Club, and in his youth an original member of the Pembroke Young Farmers’ Club.

In each of these posts, Pat was regularly required to deliver after-dinner speeches, whose humorous content and enthusiastic delivery became his hallmark.

As a result of his dedicated service to these agricultural organisations, Pat was the extremely proud recipient of a significant number of awards.

Over the years, he was bestowed with the ‘Idris Davies Memorial Award’ by the NFU for Wales, an award from Pembroke Town Council for services to agriculture, as well as being made a ‘Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society for the UK’.

He was also granted the Rotary Club’s highest honour, ‘the Paul Harries Award’ for his service to the community (primarily for his regular fundraising efforts for local charities) but perhaps his most treasured award came with the news that he was to be honoured with an MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Never shy to share his pride at this meeting with royalty, he was also pleased to regale his family and friends with humorous accounts of his separate encounters with Prince Philip (at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party), Prince Charles, and Sarah Ferguson (‘Fergie’).

More than all these accolades, however, Pat felt most pride in the unstinting efforts he made to support farmers enduring financial hardship. Indeed, when he was successful in protecting their interests, such as when he helped persuade EU decision-makers in Brussels to soften the impact of milk quotas for smaller farmers, these were the achievements he cherished the most.

In terms of his wider community involvement, Pat was well-known for his generosity to others, exemplified by his provision of free milk to schoolchildren at Hundleton Primary School in the early-1970s, and his funding of Christmas parties for all the pupils at Lamphey primary school in the late-1960s and early-1970s.

Beyond all these professional and public accomplishments, however, he often claimed ‘his greatest good fortune in life’ was to marry wife, Betty (Waldeland). Indeed perhaps the only area of his life for which he displayed more passion than farming was his wife and family to whom he was devoted, as well as his many friends with whom he loved to share both jokes and whiskies!

In all his endeavours, he was a larger-than-life character and a hugely kind and charming man with a great sense of fun. He will assuredly be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to spend time in his company.

He is survived by sons, Nicholas, Gwynne, Gareth and Dan, daughters, Anne, Karina and Rosemary, as well as 11 grandchildren and seven great-grand-children.

The funeral for Pat will be held at Stackpole Church on Wednesday, October 6, at 12.30, followed immediately by a reception at Lamphey Hall Hotel.

In lieu of flowers, Pat himself requested that donations be given to ‘The Royal Agricultural Benevolence Institution’ via Neil Roberts, 51 Bush Street, Pembroke Dock, SA72 6AN.