A well-known farmer in Littlehampton who was part of the family business for 64 years has passed away.
John Helyer passed away on May 6 aged 88, having retired in 2006.
Speaking to the Gazette at the time of his retirement, he said: “I have had a wonderful life as a farmer because I have always done something I have enjoyed. And not many people can say that.”
A requiem mass for John will be held at midday on Friday, May 25 at St Mary’s Church, Littlehampton.
Born on June 10, 1929, John left school at 13 to help his father Frank at Wick Farm. In the 1950s his father gave it up and it was developed into the Wickbourne Housing Estate, where Helyer’s Green was named after the family.
John took over East Street Farm in 1967 after his uncle Jim died and ran it for 40 years, keeping cattle, pigs and chickens and growing cereals, vegetables and 12 acres of potatoes a year.
East Street Farm consisted of land at Cornfields Farm, now Highdown Drive and the Littlehampton Academy, and Norway Farm in Worthing Road.
The Helyer family have been in Littlehampton since 1881, coming from the Devon community of Frenchbeer on Dartmoor. According to family legend, their father made a lucky strike when his plough hit what he thought was a rock but turned out to be a small chest of George III spade guineas.
John and his wife Eileen lived in the East Street farmhouse, a grade II listed building which dates back in parts to 1600.
They had three children: Neil, Anne and Lynn. Neil said: “John will be sorely missed not only by his family, but by all who were privileged to know such a true gentleman.”
John and Eileen celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago, Neil said, and added that his mother is ‘missing him in many ways’.
John was known for riding his grey tractor around Littlehampton, and for parading it in the Littlehampton Carnival and Bonfire processions.
Both John and Eileen were prominent members of the Companions Club and were well known for their charitable work, receiving awards from the club and Littlehampton Town Council.