Tributes to livestock legend who has died aged 93 after contracting Covid-19

Peter Edrich, who was at the heart of Norfolk agricultural and sporting life for more than 50 years, has died aged 93 after contracting Covid-19.

Norfolk born and bred he had a love for his home county which informed his many and simultaneous interests which all had the land at their heart.

His son Steven Edrich said he had reputation for quietly getting things done, without fanfare or any desire for applause.

Best known for wielding the gavel at the county’s busy livestock markets at a time when there were more farmers and the buying and selling of animals was an incredibly important part of country life, he was said to have known everyone putting up their hands.

His son said he was an “unsung but significant” figure in Norfolk.

“If it was Tuesday it was Stalham, if it was Thursday it was Acle, and if it was Saturday it was Norwich,” he said.

“He never talked about himself. He was always there and it was because of him that stuff happened.”

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Working for the family business Howlett and Edrich Livestock Auctioneers for 54 years he was a font of knowledge about the east Norfolk landscape especially around the Acle Straight/Halvergate marshes.

In is role as chairman of the drainage board he was the bridge between farming, conservation, and tourist interests who knew the fields like the back of his hand.

He played a founding role in the creation of the precursor to Norfolk Wildlife Trust and in the setting up of the nature trail and visitor centre at Ranworth where he lived much of his life and was also church warden.

And he could also boast - if that was his way - a proud cricketing pedigree.

Counting first cousins among international players in the 40s, 50s, and 60s including Bill and John Edrich, he was not without talent himself playing for Norfolk and the South Walsham village team at a time when county cricket saw teams travelling all over.

A highlight in the sporting calendar, now consigned to the annals of Norfolk sporting history, was the annual charity match held between the legendary Edriches and the Lord’s Taverners touring team played at Ingham, near Stalham, and often attracting a celebrity player and creating a true spectacle for locals.

Mr Edrich was born in South Walsham in 1927 and had one sister.

MORE: Norfolk man who captained Concorde dies from coronavirusAt the tail end of the second world war he joined the Royal Navy as a radar technician on operations in the North Sea, before coming back to Norfolk and the family business started by his father.

He married Brenda in 1953 and the couple had two children Steven and Sue.

They were married for 67 years, living for most of that time in Ranworth.

He moved into Manor House Care Home in Blofield - once his grandfather’s house - around three years ago.

He is survived by his wife who now lives in Acle, children, four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

She described him as modest man, who was hard-working and a champion for Norfolk who wanted no recognition for himself.

He died in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital after contracting Covid-19.

The family say they have received touching tributes from the farming community following Mr Edrich’s death hailing him as an influential figure in their own lives and farming careers.

Among those paying tribute was Reedham farmer Barry Brooks of Beckhithe Farms whose herd of cattle grazes the Yarmouth/Acle marshes.

He said: “He was one of them fellows that did so much for people and all out of the love of his heart.

“I first came to him on Norwich market and he was great there.

“He was great at giving people a start in life and a great advisor.

“We bought quite a lot of land over the years and his advice was tremendous. I never bought anything without Peter blessing it.

“He knew everyone in Norfolk and everyone putting their hand up in the market.

“He was a great chap. We will miss him greatly.”