Hunts farmer sowing seeds in developing world

A CHARITABLE fund set up with money bequeathed by a Huntingdonshire farmer has celebrated its 10th year of helping people from the developing world become farmers.

A CHARITABLE fund set up with money bequeathed by a Huntingdonshire farmer has celebrated its 10th year of helping people from the developing world become farmers.

The Marshal Papworth Fund, which is managed by the Agricultural Society, helps to educate overseas agricultural students.

Mr Papworth died in March 2000 and since his death more than 70 students from developing countries have received scholarships to agricultural courses in the UK.

To mark the milestone anniversary of the fund and the launch of its new brand, agricultural students joined members of the East of England Agricultural Society at the East of England Showground for a special reception.

Mr Papworth was a farmer from Upwood and a member of the agricultural society. He was described as “an adventurous and visionary man” who, during his lifetime, travelled extensively in Africa and Asia learning at first hand about the difficulties communities faced in their daily lives through lack of food, safe water and the knowledge and skills to care for their animals and crops.

He was a keen member of the Nene Valley Gliding Club and later ventured into power flying. And it was during one of his many flights that he died in a crash.

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Marshal’s vision was “helping them help themselves” by providing scholarships to enable students from all over the developing world to attend one-year postgraduate courses to improve their skills and knowledge.

The students study a diverse range of courses through the Marshal Papworth scholarships, including environment and development, water management, natural resources, forestry, post-harvest technology, international horticulture and project planning.

This year is the first that the fund has partnered Shuttleworth College in Biggleswade. Students attend a new eight-week course where they can learn vocational skills in animal and crop husbandry, machinery operation and business development.

Charles Reynolds, chairman of the Marshal Papworth Fund, said: “Having met all of the 70 students over the 10 years I have been involved with the fund, I continue to be impressed by the quality of the people whom this far-sighted farmer from Upwood continues to help on an on-going basis.

“The sacrifices the scholars make for the benefit of their fellow men never cease to amaze me. Every scholar has a story to tell.”

Paul Wallwork, chief executive of the East of England Agricultural Society, said: “That one person can create such a lasting legacy by doing something that is relatively simple but so radically different makes me stand back and question my own way of thinking about life.

“It is an honour for the East of England Agricultural Society to be bequeathed so much money by a long-standing member who is sadly missed and yet to be able to continue his good work on his behalf through the Marshal Papworth Fund.”

Bridget Nkor, from Nigeria, is attending the Shuttleworth short course.

She said: “The course has been very rewarding, with an excellent method of teaching, combining discussion and practical sessions. We will take this experience back home and, if we put into practice what we have learned, then the agricultural practice in our home countries will change for the better.

“The farm visits, soil analysis and crop rotation sessions have shown us how to get the best from the land.”