TRIBUTES have been paid to a champions farmer from Great Harwood who has died.

John Pickard died at his home on Bradley Hall Farm last Monday and at the age of 73 he was still actively working on the farm.

The father-of-three was well-known for being the vice-chairman of the Great Harwood Agricultural Show.

Wife Peggy said: "John was a sheep and beef farmer, with his passion being breeding his pedigree Lonk and Derbyshire Gritstone sheep, both native hill breeds.

"He enjoyed showing his stock and regularly won Championship prizes at the Royal Agricultural Show of England, Royal Lancashire Show and the Great Yorkshire Show.

"This is in addition to many smaller regional shows including Agricultural Shows such as Great Harwood, Todmorden, Trawden, Chipping, Hodder Valley.

"He also used to show his Pedigree Belgian Blue cattle and store beef cattle.

"Many residents of Great Harwood and dog walkers around the Dean Clough Reservoir will be accustomed to seeing John on his quad bike with his dog on the front as he checked his sheep and cattle on a daily basis.

"He was still actively working on the farm along with various other commitments. He refused to retire and always said that we’d have to ‘carry him off the farm in a box’."

John was held in high-esteem in the farming community being the longest serving committee member of the Great Harwood Agricultural Society and was instrumental in building the show to make it the success it has today.

He also was a director of the Clitheroe Auction Mart for more than 30 years and a past chairman of the Lonk Sheepbreeders Society and Ribblesdale Farmers.

John was married to his wife Peggy and they would have been celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on May 10 this year.

He was the father of Sharon, Tracy, Jules and the late Mark, and grandad of Abbi and Sam.

President of the Great Harwood Agricultural Society Richard Hanson said: "He was a character and a very sociable chap with a great sense of humour and knew what was what.

"He worked non-stop and everybody knew he was a hard-working person and was always out and about."

The funeral will take place at St Bartholomew’s Church, Great Harwood, at noon today.