Turkey tycoon Bernard Matthew dies

November 26, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Tributes have been paid to turkey tycoon Bernard Matthews after he died at his home in Norfolk aged 80 on Thanksgiving Day.

Bernard founded his poultry business over 60 years ago with an investment of £2.50, 20 turkey eggs and a second-hand incubator.

The famous farmer became a household name with the memorable ‘Bootiful’ catchphrase he used in television adverts for his turkeys.

However, his company, which was once the largest turkey farm in Europe, had suffered difficulties in recent years due to job cuts and an outbreak of bird flu.

Bernard died at his home at 2pm on Thursday, which was celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in America – where families traditionally eat a turkey.

He founded Bernard Matthews Foods Ltd in Norwich, in 1950, and stepped down as group chairman in January on 80th birthday.

Noel Bartram, Group Chief Executive , confirmed Mr Matthews died at his home in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, and spoke of his ”great sadness”.

He added: ”It is with a great deal of personal sadness that I confirm Bernard Matthews passed away on the afternoon of the 25th November.

”I have personally known Bernard Matthews for well over 30 years, and on behalf of myself and my fellow colleagues, I wish to express our great sorrow and extend our thoughts and sympathies to the family.

”Rarely has any business been as synonymous with the hard work and values of one man. It was Bernard Matthews who grew and developed this company through his entrepreneurial spirit, and clear focus.

”From simple beginnings, with an initial investment of just #2.50 sixty years ago, Bernard Matthews was responsible for taking the business from twenty turkey eggs and a second-hand paraffin incubator to a successful and thriving multi million pound company.

”He is the man who effectively put turkey on the plates of everyday working families and in so doing became one of the largest employers in rural East Anglia and a major supporter of the local farming community.

”In recent years Bernard Matthews became less involved in the day-to-day running of the company and in January of this year, on his 80th birthday, he stepped down as group Chairman.

”Despite yesterday’s very sad news the business will continue to thrive, as we honour his memory through our ongoing work and ensure that the business remains a great British institution, and a key part of the fabric of life in Norfolk and across East Anglia.”

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