Bernard Matthews passes away

Bernard Matthews, one of the UK’s greatest turkey pioneers, has passed away.

Bernard Matthews Farms Group chief executive Noel Bartram said: “It is with a great deal of personal sadness that I confirm Bernard Matthews passed away on the afternoon of the 25th November.

“I have personally known Bernard Matthews for well over 30 years and, on behalf of myself and my fellow colleagues, I wish to express our great sorrow and extend our thoughts and sympathies to the family.

“Rarely has any business been as synonymous with the hard work and values of one man. It was Bernard Matthews who grew and developed this company through his entrepreneurial spirit and clear focus.

“From simple beginnings, with an initial investment of just £2.50 60 years ago, Bernard Matthews was responsible for taking the business from 20 turkey eggs and a second-hand paraffin incubator to a successful and thriving multi-million-pound company. He is the man who effectively put turkey on the plates of everyday working families and, in so doing, became one of the largest employers in rural East Anglia and a major supporter of the local farming community.

“Through his own struggles as a young entrepreneur, he was always keen to support young people and the company was a founder Charter Member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Thanks to the success of the business he also helped support many other charitable causes, often in an unsung manner, but notably the independent Caister Lifeboat and the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth, both of which demonstrated his keen love of Norfolk and the sea.

“In recent years, Bernard Matthews became less involved in the day-to-day running of the company and in January of this year, on his 80th birthday, he stepped down as group chairman.

“Despite today’s very sad news the business will continue to thrive, as we honour his memory through our ongoing work and ensure that the business remains a great British institution, and a key part of the fabric of life in Norfolk and across East Anglia.”