Tributes after death of Ribble Valley farmer John

John Eli Holt
John Eli Holt

Tributes have been paid to a dedicated Ribble Valley farmer and family man who has died at the age of 88.

Loved ones and friends packed St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Ribchester, for the funeral service of father of five and grandfather of 17, John Eli Holt.

John was born on a farm in Hutton, but the family moved to Dove Cote Farm, Hurst Green, where he attended St John’s Primary School.

He had many happy memories of his childhood, including helping to turn the cheeses and turn the paddle on the butter maker.

He rang the church bells at St John’s for the two years before the Second World War and for this he was paid four shillings.

During the war he joined the Home Guard at Stonyhurst. After the war, his father had a contracting business and John could be found on many local farms, ploughing and threshing.

The family left Dove Cote Farm in June, 1948, and John went to work for his brother, Joe.

That is where he met his wife-to-be Grace at a dance at Salisbury Memorial Hall.

John and Grace were married at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, Ribchester, on March 11th, 1953. The newlyweds honeymooned in the Cotswolds and were planning to attend the Ideal Home Exhibition when John saw a notice for a bull sale, so Grace never got to see the exhibition after all!

When they returned home to John’s new position at Osbaldeston Hall, he set about digging his large vegetable patch and grew some of the largest and best vegetables around.

Whilst at Osbaldeston Hall, the couple’s first daughter, Grace, was born.

The family later moved to a at Low Park, Tadcaster, and welcomed their second daughter, Jane.

Over the Christmas period of 1956 they moved to a 56-acre farm – Grindlestones House Farm, Dutton and – in 1958 the couple’s third child, Julie, was born.

After their three daughters, the couple were blessed with two more children, sons John and Graham.

Dad John bought a number of local farms, including land at Dutton Hall and built a house where he and Grace happily lived for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year, the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary .

Everywhere John went, he was also joined by his loyal four-legged companion, “Bonzo Dog”.

A dedicated farmer, John was a regular at the auctions at Preston, Clitheroe, Gisburn, Hawes, Skipton, Otley, Blackburn and Bingley.

Paying tribute, the family said: “He was a family man who enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

“He always had a goal in life and no matter what, he managed to achieve it.”