Gerry Barnett, a well-known Worcestershire journalist, whose career spanned almost 70 years, has died at the age of 89.

As a member of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Gerry was a fierce champion of the farming community, the countryside and local produce – on occasions delivering Vale of Evesham asparagus to Buckingham Palace and top London food venues as part of the British Asparagus Festival.

Gerry joined the Evesham Journal in 1949, later taking over as agricultural correspondent for the Journal series in Evesham and the Cotswolds and becoming a familiar face at all major farming and agricultural events in the Midlands. He also worked for the Gloucestershire Echo, based in Evesham.

But journalism hadn't always been his dream, with Gerry dreaming of becoming a policeman in his earlier years before his careers teacher at Prince Henry’s Grammar School recommended applying for the Journal's vacant sports reporter role instead.

His first job saw him cover Evesham United's 21-0 thrashing over Evesham Town Amateurs and Gerry went on to cover many notable events in the area, including the time when a circus lion ate its trainer on Crown Meadow.

Ledbury Reporter: Gerry Barnett (centre) at the Moreton Show 2016. Photo credit: Chris RobertsGerry Barnett (centre) at the Moreton Show 2016. Photo credit: Chris Roberts

In 2003, Gerry’s long association with the CLA Game Fair was recognised during a Press reception at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, when he was presented with a bottle of English champagne by Ollie Wilson, CLA Game Fair director of communication.

Mr Wilson noted that Gerry, a long-standing member of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, had by then already achieved a remarkable record of 64 years in journalism. Starting with the Evesham Journal, Gerry had always been closely connected with farming and the countryside.

“Gerry was at the very first CLA Game Fair in 1958 and has been to the great majority of them ever since,” Mr Wilson said. “He is a true English country gentleman and a credit to journalism.”

Gerry, who lived at Ashton-under-Hill, near Evesham, was also a former chairman of Wychavon District Council and a school governor.

A countryman to his very core, Gerry lived in the same village as the well-known country author Fred Archer and, in common with many traditional people in the area tried his hand at producing his own food, including rearing a pig. He also found time to indulge in more artistic pursuits, such as singing in the Pershore Town Choir.

Gerry was a well-known local stringer for many bigger news organisations further afield and the name of Barnett of Evesham was regularly mentioned in newsrooms at the Birmingham Post & Mail, BBC Midlands Today and ATV Today as well as by members of the Midlands pack of national daily reporters.

In 1992/93 Gerry took on the position of chair of Wychavon District Council before returning to where it all began, the Evesham Journal, in 1993.

Val Wood, another former chair of Wychavon District Council, said: "He will be missed by all who knew him."

His funeral will take place at Ashton-under-Hill Chapel at 12.30 pm on May 30, with farmer Charles Archer leading the service.

"Gerry has been a part of Aston-under-Hill all of his life, always working for the community," said Mr Archer.

"He was a countryman at heart and a stickler for doing things in the right way.

"He was a tall man of course, but he was truly a giant in terms of the respect he generated."

Sharon Gilbert, former PR manager at the Three Counties Showground, added: "A consummate professional, a dedicated journalist and most importantly, a kind and decent man."