Tributes have been made by the farming community for Christopher Jones MBE, Founder of The Farming Community Network (FCN) charity, who has died aged 81.
Born during the Second World War, Christopher gained a First Class degree in Agriculture from Balliol College, Oxford. Later he and his wife Ita served the farming communities of Southern Nigeria and Kenya as Church Mission Society missionaries for over 10 years.
Returning to England, they revived their family farm in West Haddon, Northamptonshire (arable, beef and sheep) in the 1970s, which continues to operate today.
Inspired by his deep Christian faith to follow Jesus’ teachings to walk alongside those in need, Christopher founded FCN in 1995, from the middle-bedroom of the farmhouse. This was a joint venture between the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (ACF) and Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre. The charity was founded under the name The Farm Crisis Network.
In 2001, farms in England and Wales were hit with 2,000 cases of Foot-and-Mouth disease. Over 10 million animals were slaughtered and thousands of businesses and jobs lost as a result.
FCN became a key player in supporting farmers during the outbreak, with some volunteers working 18 hour days.
More people became aware of the work of FCN, leading to an increase in recruitment within the charity, which has continued to grow since. FCN’s head office has been based at Christopher’s and Ita’s farm in West Haddon.
In 2013, The Farm Crisis Network changed its name to The Farming Community Network.
In 2020 the charity celebrated its 25th anniversary, and today supports over 6,000 farmers and farming families each year with a variety of issues – including animal disease, family disputes and mental ill-health.
Christopher was awarded an MBE for his services to agriculture in 2011.
Married to Ita for over 59 years, he always acknowledged the love and support she gave him in their life together.
Christopher leaves his wife Ita, two daughters Catherine and Annabel, and 5 grandchildren, Georgina, Henry, Joshua, Daisy and Samuel.
A large number of tributes have been paid to Christopher in recent days, recounting and celebrating his compassion, leadership, friendship, commitment, humour and faith.
A full list of tributes and a photo gallery can be found via the FCN website: MEMORIES OF CHRISTOPHER JONES MBE – Farming Community Network (fcn.org.uk)
Other long-standing friends and colleagues have also shared their recollections of Christopher, and their gratitude for the positive impact he had on their lives: