Bentham has lost one of its greatest supporters with the sudden death of Anthony Bateson of Ghyll Head Farm.

Anthony’s concern for people went beyond the agricultural community.

For 30 years he was a governor of Bentham Primary School. When the school was burgled and had to close, Anthony was one of the first to help the then headmaster David Johnson restore normality.

Anthony was a delegate to the National Farmers’ Union Milk Board and an NFU Insurance Assessor. Some delegates would send apologies but he travelled miles to represent his neighbours.

To friends he was “Ant” and to the Vale of Lune Young Farmers he was “Father Ant.” His trademark was a thumbs-up sign after a job well done, accompanied by an infectious chuckle. When he used his bus pass on the Blackpool trams recently he sat down and gave daughter Anthea the thumbs up as she waited to pay.

Anthony met his wife Esther at Bilsborrow in 1968, but due to a foot and mouth crisis they didn’t arrange a date until 1969 and were married in 1971.

The ever-punctual Anthony was late for his own wedding. He’d forgotten the Banns Certificate so the driver turned back. Anthony was not a good traveller and spent the second, faster journey to the church being sick out of the window.

Anthony lived at Ghyll Head Farm all his life but was never a morning person. His late colleague Bill Park hid alarm clocks in his room to ensure that milking got under way.

In 1980 Anthony had a farm accident and suffered shattered vertebrae. He returned to work but large cows and bad backs do not mix so he decided to focus on his welding. Examples of his fine metalwork are all over the area.

His fields were let to other farmers and buildings to landscapers Steve Foster and Michael Johnson. Whenever their machinery needed repair Anthony would fix it for them whilst they were out.

Esther and Anthony loved ballroom dancing and some holidays were spent on dancing weekends. Anthony was a good teacher to those who needed help with their footwork.

He enjoyed the social side of politics and single-handedly put the fun into fundraising. His family knew when it was time to leave an event though as Anthony would begin to roll his own smokes.

At his funeral, the priest described Anthony as “a deeply spiritual person”. He worshipped at Low Bentham Parish Church and gave practical help whether moving pews or providing props for the lambing service and farmers’ harvest.

The funeral was attended by hundreds of friends from all over Britain.

Anthony had made time for his family and community and people wanted to thank him.

Anthony leaves a widow, Esther, daughters Gillian and Anthea and son-in-law David.