OBITUARY: Tribute to farmer Graham Ward, founder of the Gorefield Show and life long shire horse enthusiast

PUBLISHED: 17:44 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 06 November 2017

Former Wisbech Town Hockey Club chairman, Graham Ward, died at the age of 81 last week.

Former Wisbech Town Hockey Club chairman, Graham Ward, died at the age of 81 last week.


Tributes have been paid to a popular Gorefield farmer who has died at the age of 81.

Tributes are paid to Graham Ward of Decoy Farm, Gorefield, who has died at the age of 81. Tributes are paid to Graham Ward of Decoy Farm, Gorefield, who has died at the age of 81.

Graham Ward was well known across Wisbech and beyond for his devotion to shire horses, involvement with hockey and cricket clubs and the Wisbech Operatic and Dramatic Society.

He was a founder member of the Gorefield Show and enjoyed showing his shire horses across the country.

The National Shire Horse Society said: “We are very sorry to learn of the passing of one of the breed’s most loyal servants. Graham Ward passed peacefully after a short illness.”

Tributes have been paid to farmer and shire horse enthusiast Graham Ward of Wisbech.Tributes have been paid to farmer and shire horse enthusiast Graham Ward of Wisbech.

“Graham was a very kind man and a stalwart of the breed. “Our deepest sympathies go to the Ward family at this very sad time.”

A spokesman for the Heavy Horse Herald said: “It is with sadness the HHH reports the passing of life long shire stalwart Graham Ward of Decoy Shires.

“A council man for over 60 years serving the shire breed all over the world. Our sympathy goes to the family at this sad time.”

GETTING TO KNOW YOU - 2006 Graham Ward

In 2006 Graham kindly agreed to take part in a regular feature in our paper entitled ‘getting to know you’. We thought it appropriate to share it.

What do you do?

Farmer and horse breeder.

Why would people know you?

Shire horses and hockey.

What is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you?

Working for 10 years to get an Astroturf hockey pitch for Wisbech (1985-1995) in conjunction with the late Ashley Whitteridge and Geoff Beel.

What do you like most about the Fens?


Give us at least five pet hates.

Parson Drove winds, my wife squeezing the toothpaste from the top, people who believe they are perfect, queue jumpers, impatient drivers.

What sort of car do you drive?

Renault Megane.

What do you think about people who smoke?

It is their choice. I have never smoked and I do agree with a ban in public places.

What is your favourite Fenland restaurant/pub?

Five Bells, Parson Drove. Excellent food, beautifully cooked and reasonably priced.

What is the most money you spent in one day?

I haven’t a clue!

What is the most romantic thing you have ever done?

Walking my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

Would you say you are fashion conscious?

I like to see people smartly dressed when required.

What is on your bedside table?

Lamp, telephone, alarm clock, glass of water.

If you had £100 to give to charity, who would you give it to, and why? Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, for saving our second son’s life after an accident when he was seven.

Do you agree with the idea of private education?


Name a town or country you would never want to return to.


Who would you least like to sit next to on an aeroplane?

The late Cyril Smith MP.

If you were the Prime Minister, what would you abolish?

Reorganise taxation to make council tax fairer for all. And I would want a much firmer control on immigration.

What is the worst job you have ever had to do?

Having to cancel a junior hockey tour to Heidleberg - all the juniors were disappointed, and so was I.

Which person do you admire the most, and why?

Our Queen. Her wide knowledge on so many subjects is amazing. She also has a great love of horses.

Your claim to fame?

Bred shire horse of the year champion 1980 - Decoy Royal Surprise; past chairman Wisbech NFU; past chairman Wisbech Cricket and Hockey Club; past president and chairman Wisbech Operatic and Dramatic Society; past president East Hockey. Chairman of Wisbech Sire Horse Society and member National Shire Horse Council for 50 years.

What would you most like to be remembered for?

An understanding father and loving grandfather.

Wisbech Town Hockey Club described him as “a true legend; Graham had been a stalwart for many years and was former chairman, second team captain and valuable coach at both the club and Wisbech Grammar School.

“He was a remarkable character who will have touched and affected many lives at Wisbech Town Hockey Club and will be sorely missed.

“The men’s first team will be holding a minute’s silence before their home fixture with Waltham Forest and we invite all friends and family of Graham to the game to honour a truly wonderful man.”

Mr Ward appeared regularly in the Wisbech Standard and in 2006 we ran a ‘getting to know you’ feature in which he said he would like to be remembered as an understanding father and loving grandfather.

Mr Ward was born and farmed at Decoy Farm, Gorefield until he retired 10 years ago at the age of 71.

At one time he had 10 shire horses and in 1980 won the shire horse of the year title with family horse Decoy Royal Surprise.

He was Wisbech Hockey Club team captain in the 60s and was chairman of the Hockey and Cricket Club for 25 years finishing in the early 90s.

He continued playing until he was in his late 50s and continued to coach students at Wisbech Grammar School until the age of 70.

He was back stage manager and chairman of Wisbech Operatic and Dramatic Society, president of the Eastern Counties Hockey Association and chairman of Cambridgeshire Hockey.

One of his proud moments was working for 10 years to get an Astroturf hockey pitch for Wisbech (1985-1995) in conjunction with the late Ashley Whitteridge and Geoff Beel.

He was married to Janet, who died two years ago, and leaves children Andrew, Stephen, Matthew and Rachael.

He has 10 grandchildren,

• The memorial service is at St Peter’s Church, Wisbech on Friday November 17 at 1pm. All welcome.


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