Saturday, 18 September 2021

Hambleden Valley farmer and district council chairman

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of a farmer and councillor.

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of a farmer and councillor.

Roger Emmett, 67, who was chairman of Wycombe District Council abd lived in Parmoor, died suddenly of a heart attack two weeks ago.

More than 650 mourners attended the service at St Mary the Virgin church in Hambleden on Thursday last week.

They could not all fit in the church so speakers were put up outside so that the remaining 100 people could hear what was being said.

Sheaths of wheat used at the harvest festival service in Hambleden were carried into church by family members ahead of the coffin and stacked at the front of the church.

The service was conducted by Rev John Wigram who told the congregation that he was sure many of them were still shocked by Cllr Emmett’s sudden death.

“Roger was so recently just getting on with his very active life,” he said. “Many of you will have been working or talking with him just recently and nobody expected we would need to be here today.

“As Roger was brought into church today, the sheaths of wheat that were brought in ahead of him may well have been the very ones he carried into church at our harvest festival last autumn, something he has done for so many years along with other local farmers.”

Rev Wigram said that he had an unfinished conversation with Cllr Emmett about the official church service that would have happened at the end of his term as chairman of Wycombe council.

He said: “He wanted it to happen here in Hambleden, not in the middle of High Wycombe, so he had plans to get many of you out here to his home ground. Sadly, that won’t now happen in the way he had hoped but in a sense he’s got you all here anyway so you can see where his heart was.” His brother David, who runs the neighbouring farm, read Psalm 121 and his son Neill read The Man Is A Success by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Fenwick Jackson, Cllr Emmett’s brother-in-law, read the Farmer’s Creed and a tribute was read by his cousin John Emmett, who spoke of their childhood spent together as young farmers driving Ford Cortinas.

The hymns sung were O Lord My God, When I In Awesome Wonder, Lord Of All Hopefulness, The Lord’s My Shepherd and Jerusalem.

Cll Emmett’s coffin was transported the half-mile to the Pheasants Hill burial ground at walking pace with family following, stopping the traffic. He was buried next to his parents.

A wake was held at St Katherine’s in Parmoor.

In a statement, Cllr Emmett’s widow Frances and family said: “Roger was a kind, thoughtful and gregarious character, who was interested in those around him; he was exceptional at connecting people’s interests.

“Roger’s passing is a major loss to his family, friends and the local community. We have been overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, kindness and care from all of Roger’s friends who have supported us at this time.”

Family friend Billy Pinches said: “I knew him from when we were 13 or 14 and he was a lovely man. We were young boys in the pony club together and Maidenhead Young Farmers.

“I remember that when the Stag and Huntsman pub in Hambleden was done up last year and I was in a room with all the gentry of the area Roger shouts across the room, ‘Billy do you remember the time they threw us out of here when we were 15?’ and everyone just stopped.

“If everyone had people like Richard then the world would be a much better place.”

Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, said: “Roger was a gentle man in every way — one of ‘nature’s gentlemen’, kind and considerate, generous and so hard-working, a person who didn’t say ‘why don’t they?’ but one who got on and did whatever he perceived to be needed.

“He will be sorely missed by the community at large and all our thoughts are with Frances and the family.”

Farmer Robert Connell, who went to school with Cllr Emmett, said: “Roger always was interested in everything. He loved the countryside and was always a sportsman.”

Cllr Emmett was born in Caversham on November 2, 1945 and lived in the Hambleden Valley all his life. He was brought up in Rockwell End with his brother David and sister Judith. He came from a large farming family, who have farmed in the area for three generations.

Cllr Emmett was a pupil at Lansdowne School in High Wycombe and King’s School in Sherborne, Gloucestershire, and attended the Institute of Agriculture at Moulton, Northampton. After finishing school, Cllr Emmett worked on the family farm. His father died suddenly and left him and his brother to run it when they were still in their early twenties.

He was involved in Maidenhead Young Farmers Club, as well as Nettlebed Farming Club, and became a member of the Henley and District Agricultural Association and chairman of the Royal South Bucks Agricultural Association. He was also a board member for the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Cllr Emmett was married in 1972. His eldest son Mark, 38, lives in Italy with his partner Heather and daughter Astrid, three, while younger son Neill, 35, lives with his wife Esme in Henley.

He was a supporter of the Buckinghamshire Neighbourhood Action Group and the Chilterns Conservation Board. He had been a member of Wycombe council since 2001, representing Hambleden Valley. He became chairman in May.

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