A PIONEER of agricultural education and a regular at the Westmorland County Show has passed away from natural causes aged 71.

As the face of the National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU’s) ‘Lets Talk Farming Roadshow’, Lancashire farmer Johnny Ball spent 16 years of his life travelling the length and breadth of the country talking to adults and children alike about the industry.

And, during this time, the father-of-two was a familiar face at Crooklands’ annual Westmorland County Show as well as at the Cumberland Show, Carlisle.

Christine Knipe, chief executive of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society, which organises the county show, described him as a ‘very positive’ person who was passionate about his work.

She said: “He was an amazing character. Very bright and bubbly. He had an amazing way of being able to relate to people of all ages.

“He made agricultural education fun and really did enjoy engaging with the general public to try and explain where their food comes from.”

Sarah Kitching, an agent at the Kendal branch of rural insurers NFU mutual, knew Mr Ball through his visits to the region.

“He just had a really good way about him and a good way of communicating and getting the message across in a fun way. So he’ll be sadly missed, he really will,” she said.

“He was always so cheerful. He always had a smile on his face. He was a really nice chap - very genuine.”

Prior to taking up a role with the NFU at the turn of the millennium, Mr Ball had farmed arable land, later progressing into beef production and operating a mixed farm. Upon his retirement from the NFU in 2016, he returned to Moss Nook Farm, near St Helens, Merseyside.