June 5, 2017
Tributes paid to Highbridge Hotel owner and local farmer Derek Mead

Tributes have been paid to the former owner of the Highbridge Hotel and a prominent farmer and businessman who was killed in an accident on his farm at the weekend.

Derek Mead is reported to have suffered a heart attack after the "tragic accident" on Sunday afternoon.

He was reportedly involved in a freak accident involving a dog and a tractor at his farm in Hewish, near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

Police and paramedics were called to The Laurels in Hewish, near Weston-super-Mare at 2.18pm.

Two response vehicles, an ambulance and an air ambulance attended and rescuers battled unsuccessfully to save the father-of-three, who was in cardiac arrest.

Sixth-generation dairy farmer Derek Mead, 72, employed about 300 staff across the Mead Group.

A family statement said Mr Mead was killed in a "tragic accident" on Sunday afternoon "doing what he loved".

They said: "It is with heavy hearts that we have to let you know that our father and grandfather, Derek Mead, was killed in a tragic accident on his farm. He was doing what he loved and has been doing since he was a young boy. The family thank you for all your kind messages during this time."

Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that the investigation has been passed to the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE said: "We can confirm HSE are aware of this incident and are making initial enquiries."

As the owner of the fire-ravaged Highbridge Hotel and former Highbridge cattle market site, Mr Mead was pleased in 2013 when controversial plans for 59 homes at the cattle market site were approved, in addition to the redevelopment of the hotel site - although he never got to see the completion of the hotel rebuild, which is still ongoing.

Back in 2008, we reported here how Mr Mead defended his actions at a public meeting in Highbridge after a huge fire swept the hotel.

Kerry Rickards, Chief Executive of Sedgemoor District Council, paid tribute to him, saying: "We are deeply shocked by the news of Derek’s death, as we have worked closely with Derek and Mead Realisations for some years on significant projects in Sedgemoor."

"Without a doubt, he was a colourful character who certainly got things done. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Mr Mead campaigned hard for the dairy industry and had been a critic of the National Farmers Union (NFU) for many years, claiming it did not properly represent the interests of farmers. Speaking in 2015 he described all areas of British farming as being "on the floor".

Mr Mead was Chairman of Puxton Park, near Weston, and of Junction 24, which is a business centre and one of the largest livestock markets in the South West.

Chris Rundle, who worked as an adviser for Mr Mead, said his investment of £10m to help develop Sedgemoor Livestock Centre had "put new heart back in to the livestock trade".


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