FAMILY and friends have said goodbye to a well-known and widely-loved farmer.

After a life of doing what he loved – farming and talking to "anybody that stopped" – John Messenger died on January 7 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, aged 79.

The popular Whitehaven man was born in Beaumont, Carlisle, before moving to Huntinghow Farm in Moresby when he was two years old.

John attended Moresby School, and became a member of Egremont Young Farmers after leaving education, representing on the county Stockjudging team three times at the Olympia Dairy Show and shearing sheep for the County Federation.

The keen ploughman won many championship titles, even going on to judge at Club and County levels, instructing those at Newton Rigg and at the Copeland Farmers Training Group, before having the privilege to judge at the World Ploughing match when it was held in Crewe, Cheshire.

During his time in the young farmers group, John met his future wife Jean, and the pair married in 1962.

The happy couple took over a farm at Haile in 1967, farming dairy cows and growing potatoes and vegetables, which John sold door-to-door around Whitehaven's streets, before moving to Moresby Hall in 1971.

John and Jean eventually settled at Adamgill Farm, with their son Mark and daughter Rachel.

After hanging up his farming hat, John became president of his beloved Whitehaven Rotary Club in 2001, loving every second of volunteering and giving back to his community.

Despite suffering from poor health for many years, the caring Cumbrian was often spotted wandering the roads around his farm with his stick, talking to anybody and everybody who was happy to chat.

John leaves behind his wife, children and five grandsons, who celebrated his memory at a private family burial at Haile Church followed by a service of thanksgiving at St Bridget's Church, Moresby.

Donations to Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Blue Skies Hospital Funds were requested, with £1,190 raised.