FENLAND: Fengrain trader to retire on Friday - at the grand age of 91

PUBLISHED: 16:43 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 02 June 2010

Jack South, who retires on Friday. Picture: PETER UPTON  2537PU209

Jack South, who retires on Friday. Picture: PETER UPTON 2537PU209

FENGRAIN trader Jack South has announced his retirement, after nearly seven decades of service to the grain trade. Jack, aged 91, had already retired once but, after initially returning to the industry with Dalgety, he joined Fengrain six years ago where

FENGRAIN trader Jack South has announced his retirement, after nearly seven decades of service to the grain trade.

Jack, aged 91, had already retired once but, after initially returning to the industry with Dalgety, he joined Fengrain six years ago where he has continued to trade successfully for the Wimblington-based grain marketing and storage specialists until deciding to hang up his grain spear for one final time.

His first job in the grain trade was with Bradshaws in Cotterstock, near Peterborough. This followed a short spell with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, which ended when he damaged his hearing following an accidental torpedo explosion.

Jack, who was born in Shropshire towards the end of the First World War, worked his way up through the ranks at Bradshaws before joining forces with Kenneth Wilson who was one of the largest traders in the country. He helped the business expand and formed Kenneth Wilson/South before it was eventually sold to Bunge.

Jack said: "I have seen so many changes in my career. When I first started out, the fields were still ploughed by horses and the grain was harvested through a threshing machine at about an acre a day. Today a combine harvester can clear 10 acres in an hour.

"In years gone by every market town had a Corn Exchange and prices were generally fixed locally. Grain was traded on the stock market in Mark Lane by callers. Today, over 600 million tonnes of grain is marketed as a world wide commodity, most of which is handled by computers.

"One thing remains the same, however, the traders' relationship with the grower. Most deals are still done on a hand shake and integrity is everything."

Paul Wilkinson, Fengrain chairman, said: "It is a remarkable achievement for anyone to have continued to be working so actively at the age of 91, and Jack's knowledge of the grain industry is incomparable.

"He has tremendous respect from farmers and merchants alike, but especially at Fengrain where he was employed in a full time capacity at the age of 84. Jack has grown up and lived by the ethos that a man's word is his bond. He has and is still a credit to the grain industry and everyone at Fengrain wishes him a happy retirement. He has certainly earned it."

Jack, who has two children, Colin and Mary, and four grandchildren, has lived in Islip, Northamptonshire, for more than 50 years. He is now looking forward to spending more time with his second wife Eileen and enjoying more trips to the racecourse.


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