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Tributes to Suffolk farming pioneer Len Tuckwell who had ‘unique passion and flair’ for business

PUBLISHED: 17:27 02 November 2017

Len Tuckwell, who founded LE Tuckwell, has died aged 91. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Len Tuckwell, who founded LE Tuckwell, has died aged 91. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A pioneering figure in Suffolk farming has been remembered for his keen business mind and sense of generosity.

Len Tuckwell, who founded LE Tuckwell Ltd and received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to agriculture, died on October 19, aged 91.

His family have paid tribute to a passionate businessman who could also be caring and witty.

Born in Raydon, near Hadleigh, Len grew up with six siblings and showed an early love of business. He took many part time jobs including at Flatford carpark, for which he held “great affection” due to its “lucrative” tips.

Leaving school at 14, Len worked at Tom Groves’ garage in Hadleigh, where he gained his first experiences in engineering.

During the Second World War, he served in the Army, with postings to Burma and Japan – a country he “fell in love with”.

Returning to Suffolk, Len met Brenda and the couple married in 1952. They had three children – Paul, Amanda and Dave.

The couple also started the business, which soon became a success, thanks, said Dave, to their “dedication and hard work”.

It became a dealer for Ferguson tractors and branched out into liquid fertiliser production, agrochemical supply and haulage.

“He was a great businessman who loved to do a deal and always had an eye open for the next business opportunity,” said Dave.

In 1964, Len bought his first farm, Bedingfield House, where he lived the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, the business continued to thrive. LE Tuckwell’s became one of the UK’s first John Deere dealerships and in 1975 P Tuckwell was formed. Len also returned to Japan to set up a distributorship for Iseki tractors.

After an illness in 1982, Len passed the business to his sons. In 1991, he was diagnosed with cancer and given just a few years to live. His family said it was testimony to his strong character that he survived another 26 years. He retained a keen interest in the business, which today employs more than 150 staff,

In his personal life, Len also supported charities including the Godbold Trust in Worlingworth and Salvation Army. In 2014 he was honoured with a BEM.

“Dad had a unique passion and flair for business,” said Dave. “Outside of business he was generous and caring, witty with a glint in his eye. He helped many people in many ways during his full and successful life.”

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