Former NFU president Sir Simon Gourlay, a passionate moderniser whose reforms changed the way the organisation operated, has died at the age of 85.
Sir Simon, president of the NFU from 1986 to 1991, farmed on the English/Welsh border.
He was began as a beef farmer before turning his hand to dairying and later free-range egg production.
The former army officer was first elected to office as NFU Vice president in 1982, then Deputy president in 1984 and became president when Sir Richard Butler stood down in 1986.
He was behind a major re-structuring of the organisation – replacing the old NFU county system with a new, streamlined regional set up.
He was also instrumental in creating the NFU’s popular countryside membership category.
Paying tribute to Sir Simon Gourlay, current NFU president Minette Batters said today: “I send my deepest condolences to Sir Simon’s wife, Lady Caroline, and his three sons, Justin, David and Alistair.
“During his term in office, Sir Simon had to deal with a number of serious issues and dealt with all of these calmly and effectively.
“But he’ll be remembered most as being a great reformist and moderniser. He came into office determined to leave the NFU in a better condition than he found it – a lasting legacy of his five-year presidency.”
She added: “Farmers and growers of England and Wales owe Sir Simon Gourlay a huge debt of gratitude for the unwavering commitment that he showed as one of their most effective leaders.”