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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

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Tributes to 'King of Carrots' Clem Tompsett

Described as "the UK's greatest ever carrot grower", Clem Tompsett passed away last weekend

Tributes to 'King of Carrots' Clem Tompsett

Clem Tompsett. Photo: Tompsett Growers/Facebook

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Tributes have poured in for leading carrot grower Clem Tompsett, who passed away last weekend.

The news was revealed in a statement on Tompsett Growers’ Facebook page on 22 March, which read: “Clem Tompsett MBE sadly passed away today. It is a time of sadness for Mary, Jackie, Sally, Roy and Sam and all those who work for Clem's companies. True gent who achieved so much and did it with laughter and banter. Many tears will flow but it will be mixed with laughter. Our thanks to Soham Lodge who cared for him in his last few weeks.”

Tompsett has been described as the “King of Carrots” and farmed the root vegetable for over half a century. His family business, Tompsett Burgess Growers, produces over 75,000 tonnes of carrots and 9,000t of parsnips a year in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk as well as Scotland, and is a 52-week a year supplier.

Tompsett began farming in the early 1950s, with his daughter Jackie also now managing the business. According to the British Carrot Growers’ Association (CGA), the company has a highly loyal workforce that is “considered an extension of the family”, with many having worked there for over 25 years. 

Tompsett described his love of protecting the environment as well as producing quality crops, and planted 40 acres of woods at Willow Farm as well as creating areas of natural beauty, including wildlife-friendly reservoirs.  

He was awarded an MBE in 2006 for his services to agriculture, local communities and charity work, having raised a total of £192,150 by staging the Isleham One-Day Event, the first weekend of the British Eventing calendar. Money was presented to 12 different charities including the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Papworth Hospital and Riding for the Disabled.

'An incredible and inspiring man'

News of his death drew over 300 comments on the company’s Facebook page, with CGA chairman Rodger Hobson describing Tompsett as “the greatest carrot grower the UK has ever known.”

Paul Randle wrote: “Clem was unique, a true gentleman.”

And Lucy Goodwin-Grieve said: “What an incredible and inspiring man who achieved so much in his lifetime.”

Produce World chairman William Burgess said his family were sad to lose both a friend and business partner. "We have worked closely with the Tompsett family for 19 years, and I am delighted to confirm that both families are committed to continuing this working relationship,” he continued.

Jackie Seddon, Tompsett's daughter and director of Tompsett Burgess Growers, said: “The two families have a long-term commitment to working together towards the goal of being one of the leading root vegetable growers in the UK.  Dad very much wanted us to continue and we are pleased to confirm that we have exciting plans to invest in the business over the next couple of years.”

A celebration of Clem Tompsett’s life will take place at Ely Cathedral on 17 April at 1pm.

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