Tribute has been paid to Martin Burtt, a Glaisdale dairy farmer who spent almost half a century representing local dairy, livestock and hill farmers through some of the toughest times the industry has ever experienced.
Mr Burtt passed away on June 17 after a long battle against cancer. Regional Director of the National Farmers’ Union, Adam Bedford, said Mr Burtt’s contribution to the industry, to the NFU and to his fellow farmers was ‘immense’.
“Martin was someone who gave unstintingly of his time on behalf of the industry,” said Mr Bedford.
“A very gentle person, he was nevertheless determined to stand up for the industry he loved and rose through the ranks of the NFU to stand alongside former President Sir Ben Gill, as chairman of the national Livestock and Wool Committee during the BSE crisis and 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak,” he said.
“I can’t imagine the pressure he was under during those periods, when farming faced some of its darkest days, but he remained utterly committed to his work on behalf of farmers both regionally and nationally and was active with our regional dairy board until just before he passed away.
“He will be terribly missed by a great many people and our thoughts are with his wife Susan and his family at this very sad time.”
Mr Burtt’s first involvement with the NFU was in 1967 when he attended a meeting of the hill farming committee in Darlington.
He became a committee member two years later and from there, with much encouragement from Stokesley member Norman Seymour, progressed through the ranks at branch and county level before being elected Council Delegate in 1986 – a position he held for 14 years.
He progressed still further to become national chairman of both the Marginal Land Committee and Livestock and Wool Committees.
From a dairy perspective, he also oversaw the introduction of milk quotas in 1984.
Former NFU regional director, Richard Ellison, who worked with Mr Burtt for more than 20 years, said: “Martin was a dedicated NFU man who was involved at all levels of the organisation and always made time for the job - spending many hours away from home working tirelessly on behalf of his fellow members.
“He will be sadly missed.”
Current NFU regional diary board chairman, York farmer Paul Tompkins, said Mr Burtt was someone who really inspired him to get involved with the NFU.
“I was always struck by Martin’s ability to ensure everyone in the room felt included and that their views matter.
“I was also impressed at how ready he was to embrace change.
“New ideas always interested him in his desire to move the industry forward.
“His contributions to our meetings were always thoughtful and his will certainly be big shoes to fill.”
Mr Burtt’s funeral will take place tomorrow (June 27) at noon, at St Hedda’s Catholic Church, Egton Bridge.