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Tributes paid to farmer from Newchurch on Romney Marsh

A well-known sheep farmer and family man has died aged 70 after a battle with cancer.

Robert Langrish, of Pickney Bush Farm near Newchurch on Romney Marsh, died on Thursday, April 23 at home surrounded by family.

Robert Langrish died last month after a battle with cancer
Robert Langrish died last month after a battle with cancer

He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Helen and two children James and Claire.

He is remembered for running the family business, for his love of cars and being a member of the East Kent Hunt.

Paying tribute, Mrs Langrish said: "He called himself the 'odd-job man' but he was so much more than that.

"He was the very backbone of both our family, and the business."

Born in June 1949, Robert started farming with his family at Beckley, near Rye, having attended Plumpton Agricultural College in the late 60s.

Robert with wife Helen
Robert with wife Helen

He loved cars - he was a self professed petrol head - and worked as a driver for several years.

His brother Frank remembers one trip, in a RS1600, when the Rye Young Farmers reached the finals of the YF Bowling Tournament, held in Manchester.

Frank said: "Robert drove us there. After that, for some reason, we decided to go to Newcastle, via Carlisle on the new M6 motorway.

"It would be about 117 miles. We did it in an hour!

"He was always mechanically minded and drove a number of very fast cars."

'He was the very backbone of both our family, and the business...'

One of his driving jobs included delivering Gilbern Genie cars from the factory in South Wales to Rye.

He also drove a lorry for Jempsons and was one of the last people to drive into the old Covent Garden market.

Another adventure saw him driving a Bedford Duple coach from London to India and back. The three-month journey took him through what was then Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and into India.

Robert first met future wife at a Young Farmers horse show.

Mrs Langrish said: "He was chatting to my mum by the lorry when I returned from the ring. "When he found out I could drive a lorry, I think I scored an extra 50 points."

The couple met again at the Ashford market and married in 1978, after which Robert moved to Helen’s family farm on Romney Marsh.

Mrs Langrish said: "Robert did all our livestock transporting. He was always on the road."

Summer would see Robert driving to county and agricultural shows where Helen was a successful show rider and their pedigree Romney Sheep would come away with handfuls of red rosettes.

Having hunted from an early age with the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt, he joined the East Kent Hunt after moving to the Marsh.

Hunt master Suze Gibson said: "Rob was an absolute gentleman. He rarely missed a day out on the Marsh and supported the hunt in so many ways.

"He spent many afternoons showing me the country and helped to plan countless trail days.

"We would ‘walk’ the country on Rob’s quad bike. The one space on the back would be constantly battled between Gilly, his beloved terrier, and myself.

"Gilly once forgot her position as Land Owners' dog and jumped off the quad to join the hounds in full flight.

"Rob was at the very heart of the hunt and really was ‘Master of the Marsh’."

Hunting colleague Maggie Owen referred to Robert as her 'knight in shining armour'.

"He’d come charging back whenever anyone had a minor dilemma out hunting," she said. "He’s the only man I’ve known who could tell two or three tales at once, but needed the odd reminder where he’d got to on each one!

"A great fun man, full of bonhomie."

Long-time friend and fellow farmer Stephen Furnival added: "He was a quite extraordinary man.

"He knew everyone. He knew his way all around the Marsh. He’d never let you down and whatever was happening, he'd always be the last to go home.

"We shall all miss him desperately."

Read more: All the latest news from Romney Marsh

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