Michael Brighton (1937 - 2012)

I am honoured to have been asked by Wendy, Mark and Stuart to give this tribute to our friend Mike, a highly respected and quite remarkable person, who achieved so much in his life, so cruelly cut short on that Sunday morning. 
Mike brought fun and happiness into so many people's lives whilst at the same time building up and running a hugely successful business. 
The sheer number of people at this service today is on its own a measure of his standing and the regard in which he was held, and he will long be remembered by all that knew him. 
Mike was born and educated in the Fens and it is no surprise that coming from those parts he had those green fingers that were to be so useful later in life. 
Soon after leaving school he joined the potato industry working for Johnsons, and having met the love of his life at a dance in Wisbech, Wendy and he were soon married. When Johnsons wanted to widen their horizons it was Mike who they sent to Norfolk and subsequently Wendy and Mike moved to Hamlet Close here in North Walsham. 
At that time potatoes were not a major crop in this area, however given extra impulse by him the area soon expanded. 
Contrary to a myth that foreigners have to be in Norfolk a long while before they are accepted, Mike and Wendy soon became really well known and liked. 
Mark was born six months before their move to Norfolk followed by Stuart soon after and this was the base for the family unit now spread across the generations. 
At that time potatoes were mostly picked by hand and put into hales or graves out in the fields then covered by straw and soil: this soil was often nearly a foot thick so in the spring when it was time to sample the crop Mike would come along and strip a section of soil, part the straw and examine the potatoes. 
Those who saw him on these occasions will remember how quick he was at getting the soil off - he was a very fit young man and the soil would fly off - I suppose in the same situation today a mini digger would have been called for. 
Soon he saw an opportunity and with Mrs Reeve and Wally Richmond set up RBR Potatoes and for very many years, long into normal retirement age, Mrs Reeve did all paperwork, we all remember that everything was meticulously recorded, this being long before the age of computers. 
The firm prospered and built up a strong reputation as honest and straight forward people to deal with. Very many will remember his phone calls, some quite early in the morning! 
Busy as he was and always putting family first he still found time and energy to pursue various sporting interests, primarily Norwich City where his charisma fuelled friendships with not only Directors but also managers and players, often inviting them to one of the famous parties on Happisburgh Road. 
Other sporting interests included boxing, kick boxing and the gym in Norwich, furthermore he will not be forgotten as a key non playing member of North Walsham Rugby Club. 
We should congratulate Michael Pollitt for his excellent obituary in the Eastern Daily Press, complete with the picture, which will have brought a lump to the throat of so many. 
By now the family were enjoying holidays in Spain and Wendy and Mike bought an apartment and subsequently a villa over there. We often joked that in May or June the potato industry held its Annual General Meeting in Spain, so many of the major players congregating in one place. 
Many stars who migrated to those warmer climes were also captivated by Mike's irresistible charm. 
I spoke earlier of his green fingers and it must be said that his wonderful garden was one of his pride and joys, much of it created from scratch, shrubs, flowers and vegetables and even potatoes. 
Many will remember the Garden Party on the occasion of Mike's 70th Birthday as a really happy family occasion. 
Speaking of flowers, I can say that a number of ladies will much miss his pre-Christmas visit when he arrived mostly with a wonderful bunch of chrysanthemums. 
How he fitted it all in one can only wonder, but with huge support from Wendy, and Mark and Stuart now much involved in the business, holidays became more adventurous, Australia to see family, friends in America and the Gambia where having had trouble in obtaining a taxi he bit the bullet and bought an old Mercedes for a taxi owner so that he was in total control when in that country. 
Such are modern communications that one of the first messages of condolence came from that taxi driver Amat. 
Generous in the extreme and a great supporter of many charities I know for instance our vicar today was very grateful that the last week of daffodil sales in the layby on the Norwich road were donated to this marvellous parish church. 
The legacy created by his drive and enthusiasm is for the family to continue, I know that he was towards the end of his life so proud of all that he and the family had achieved, especially he spoke constantly of the huge 2011 sugar-beet crop, also of course the family's initiative in driving forward the largest solar farm in the UK, just outside town: anyone who has travelled here by train will have marvelled at that. 
Sadly all the love, care and medical science he received, particularly in the last few months could not restore his health. 
So as we remember Mike and give thanks for his life we marvel at his achievements in so many spheres and we support Wendy, Mark and Stuart and all the family at this difficult time for them. 
Mike, Mick, Michael, Micky, I hope you are in paradise - you deserve to be, we all hope that the family will continue your example and that our thoughts and prayers will help to give them the strength to do so.

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RBR (Crops) making use of advice with reference to Free Living nematodes