Former president of Herts Agricultural Society and Harpenden farming stalwart dies
PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 April 2017
A much-loved Harpenden farmer who played an active role in the local community has died at the age of 70 after a short illness.
Lesley Virginia Roberts, known as Ginny, lived at Hammonds End Farm in Harpenden with her husband Howard, and was a member and former president of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society.
Ginny was born in Kent on September 20, 1946, and was the daughter of Henry Barker, who was secretary of the Herts Show for 30 years. She spent most of her childhood in St Albans, and was educated at the High School for Girls.
After school she worked for Barclays Bank and then went to finishing school at St Godric’s College in Hampstead. During her time in London she maintained her St Albans roots, becoming involved with the Company of Ten theatre group. Around this time she met Howard through a mutual friend, and they married in 1971.
Ginny then worked in sales promotion, dressing up in gold lamé outfits to promote Hennessey brandy by walking into St Albans, Luton and Hitchin pubs shouting “Who will have a Hennessey on me?” She returned to Barclays after a couple of years and had two sons, Stuart and Tim.
In the mid-1980s the family started running the Hammonds End farm, and Ginny became involved with her sons’ schools: High Beeches JMI and Sir John Lawes School, where she later became chair of the board of governors. After retiring as chair she joined the Hertfordshire School Appeals panel, helping parents to get their children into a particular school.
Ginny worked alongside her husband and son Stuart on the farm, and saw her son Tim become a teacher and later head of initial teacher training at the University of Hertfordshire.
She followed her father’s footsteps in becoming involved with the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society, which organises the Herts Show.
Mike Harmon, general manager of the society, said: “The very sad news regarding Ginny Roberts will be deeply felt by all the members, stewards and executive staff of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society. Ginny was not only one of our most passionate society ambassadors, he was also one of our longest serving supporters having first attended her first Show in 1952 as a young child chaperoned by her Father Henry Barker.
“Ginny will always be remembered for her friendly and welcoming personality and extraordinary ability to bring calm and logic to even the most difficult and tense situations.”
Her death from cancer was announced on Thursday, April 13. Her son Stuart said: “She passed away peacefully at home with her family beside her and in the knowledge that with her full life she had tried very hard to improve the lot of so many in such varied ways.”