Cumbria Crack

Aspatria Farmers honours former chairman Ian Bell

Ian Bell with chairman William Graham

Former Aspatria Farmers’ chairman Ian Bell has been recognised for his service to the business by becoming the farmer-owned co-operative’s first Honorary Life President.

Ian was the chairman of Aspatria Farmers for 23 years until he stood down earlier this year, having served for more than 34 years on the co-op’s board of directors.

He was presented with the award by his successor in the role of chairman William Graham who said: “Ian’s commitment to the business over many years has been exceptional and under his chairmanship Aspatria Farmers has grown as a business and is delivering ever more value and service to its members.

“In this honorary role Ian does not have any formal responsibilities but will continue to be an ambassador for Aspatria Farmers at key events and celebrations.”

Ian’s family association with Aspatria Farmers goes back around 100 years with Ian succeeding his father John as a director in 1985. Until recently when he took semi-retirement he was farming at Aigle Gill, Aspatria, where his son John now runs the 250-cow commercial Ayrshire herd.

Mr Bell has witnessed many changes within the industry and the business since he was elected to the board in December 1985.

“At the time the business – The Aspatria Agricultural Co-operative Society – had been swamped by the much more aggressive neighbouring co-op businesses,” he said.

“Our turnover that year was in the region of £500,000 and the Society showed a small trading loss. It really was ‘mend it’ or ‘end it’ time,” added Mr Bell.

Aspatria Farmers, based in Station Road, Aspatria – which will celebrate 150 years in business next year (2020) – is seeing business and membership at an all-time high.

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