ONE of the country’s leading rhubarb growers has died.
The farm of David Westwood, who died aged 74, was part of Yorkshire’s world famous Rhubarb Triangle between Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield.
He worked until the day he died at the family farm at Thorpe, running D Westwood and Sons, which has a long heritage of rhubarb growing.
Mr Westwood’s great-great-grandfather and great-great-uncle were some of the first forced rhubarb growers in the mid-1800s.
Born in Lofthouse, the former Stanley Secondary Modern School pupil began picking rhubarb at the age of 11 and at 14 took over the farm after his father, who owned it, had a serious accident.
His son Jonathan Westwood said: “Rhubarb declined in the 70s but when supermarket interest rose in the 80s he started it up again – the whole family comes from farming backgrounds and he loved it. He was a very generous person.”
The business has since expanded to 500 acres – 150 of which are dedicated to growing rhubarb.
Mr Westwood became president of the Leeds and District Market Gardeners’ Association shortly before his death.
Fellow rhubarb grower Janet Oldroyd Hulme, director of E Oldroyd and Sons, paid tribute to him.
She said: “I was devastated when I learned David had died, he was a good friend and it’s a tragic loss to the rhubarb industry.
“He was a fore runner of the industry and a great help to many, many people – he will be sadly missed.”
Mr Westwood also had a keen interest show jumping and kept horses for around 25 years.
He introduced some cattle and pigs to Thorpe Farm shortly before his death. He also had a life-long interest in live stock.
Mr Westwood’s funeral was held last week at Lofthouse Church and his family intend to spread his ashes on his land.
Mr Westwood leaves behind his wife of 50 years Judith, their children Jonathan and Sarah, and four granddaughters.