TRIBUTE: Founding festival member dies, aged 91

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One of the founding members of the Festival of the Plough committee has sadly passed away, aged 91.

Tom Howell was a stalwart of the popular Isle tradition, and his responsibility, back in his heyday, was keeping “the ‘ossmen together”.

Friend and fellow committee member Harold Woolgar said: “Tom will be missed by so many but well remembered for all his good works and rural humour stories.

“Tom held the master list of ‘oss ploughmen’ for the original gathering, which turned out to be The Festival of the Plough.

“In the early years Tom’s scraps of paper and detailed knowledge of who was ploughing where, enabled the current list of 30 regulars to keep in touch and attend when and where possible. Sadly time is taking its toll but then that is the natural thing about life.

“To us older country folks he was well respected ‘ossman.”

In recent times, Tom, and wife Margaret, lived in Preston and his funeral took place last Friday. Mr Woolgar attended the service representing the Festival of the Plough committee.

Mr Woolgar added: “Tom was one of the first helpers, indeed was John Harris’s Hoss-Man with his two shires Nicky and Beauty.

“He was a main stalwart, in the early years, and was responsible for keeping “the Ossmen together”.”

The first ploughing event was organised in 1980 and in some form or other has happened every year, except when the foot and mouth outbreak closed down most of the countryside in 2001.

Over the years it has been held at various venues but its current site is at High Burnham Farm.

The idea for the festival was conceived by a small group of people with the idea that, as well as allowing people the opportunity to see shire horses and old tractors actually ploughing, it could be a good way of raising money for charity. It takes place in September.