Fenland farmer who has died aged 88 was five time winner of Christmas show and sale

CHAMPION farmer and butcher, Eric Bliss, who has died peacefully aged 88 at his Fenland home, was a five-time winner of the Norwich Christmas Show and Sale.Born near Tydd in south Lincolnshire, he started on a smallholding at Sutton St James, near Long S

CHAMPION farmer and butcher, Eric Bliss, who has died peacefully aged 88 at his Fenland home, was a five-time winner of the Norwich Christmas Show and Sale.

Born near Tydd in south Lincolnshire, he started on a smallholding at Sutton St James, near Long Sutton.

When the tenancy ended, he moved to Friday Bridge and was just 17 when he took on another smallholding. Then he ran a butcher's shop from 1945 and in his first week the meat bill was �19.

As meat was rationed, he started a fresh fish business, which was to thrive. His eldest son John was then 15 years old, and had just started in the meat trade when rationing finally ended on July 3, 1954 after more than 14 years.

Mr Bliss later opened a second butcher's shop in Wisbech, and reared cattle and finished pigs.

By the late 1970s, his butchery business was supplying all schools in Cambridgeshire until there was an official change of supply policy.

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He decided to expand his cattle enterprise and competed at regional and national shows. By the mid 1980s, he was finishing about 1,000 head a year and had success at the Royal Smithfield Show in London and was also champion at Birmingham's national fatstock show.

It gave him enormous pleasure to win the EDP Norwich Christmas Show three years running from 1986 and he saw his grandson, Nicholas, then 19, parade his third success in 1988. Two more championships followed in the 1990s.

Mr Bliss was a regular attendee at Norwich and rarely missed the weekly Saturday market. Later, the shops were sold when his son retired.

He enjoyed racing, and especially the social side, attending Newmarket for the top races, and never missed a week at Great Yarmouth in September. When his younger son Derek took up go-karting as a teenager and later became world champion in Denmark, he followed his fortunes at home and abroad for several years.

He always took a close interest in the family's farming operation but about 12 years ago had a bad fall which left him in a wheelchair.

He leaves a son John and daughter Val, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. His wife Joan and younger son Derek, predeceased him. A funeral service will be held at Mintlyn Crematorium, King's Lynn, on Tuesday, March 2, 11.30am.