TRIBUTES MADE TO CHRISTOPHER JONES MBE, FOUNDER OF THE FARMING COMMUNITY NETWORK

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.

Tributes

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)

All of us within FCN take this time to reflect and remember its Founder and Honorary President, Christopher Jones. He was a truly remarkable man; a visionary with a deep Christian faith committed to supporting and ‘walking with’ those in need in our farming community. Christopher will be sadly missed by many, especially among our FCN network and beyond. Rest in peace Christopher.

Jude McCann, Chief Executive Officer, FCN

FCN’s Board of Trustees offer our heartfelt condolences to Christopher’s family during this difficult time. Christopher was loved and respected by all who knew him and he will be remembered fondly. His wisdom, kindness and enduring support for the farming community not only led to the creation of FCN but has remained a guiding force behind the charity since its inception. His legacy lives on through FCN and the many people who have benefited from the work of the charity’s dedicated volunteers and staff team.

Mark Suthern, Chair of FCN’s Board of Trustees

 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:

We shall sorely miss his much-valued friendship, wisdom and the dedication which led him to found FCN, and to mobilise us into the team to take it forward with him. Christopher operated with the humility, undergirding strength, and delegating loving wisdom of Christ in building the FCN team.
     

Dr John Wibberley, Chairman of the FCN Board of Trustees 1998 – 2003, and FCN Chaplain, Devon Group

There is no doubt in my mind that my life would have been poorer if I hadn’t had the privilege of meeting Christopher. He was a pioneer and a leader, encouraging his troops to support the bruised and battered farming community. What a wonderful man and what a wonderful legacy.
 

Nick Viney, Farmer and FCN Volunteer since 1995

I am privileged to have known and worked alongside Chris in FCN since 1996. His wisdom, intelligence and desire to support others has sown so many seeds of hope. With someone so knowledgeable and humble it was always a gain to be in the same room as Chris. He expressed the love of God to all and I am truly blessed to have known him.

Stephen Dennis, Farm Support and Network Manager, FCN
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