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Steele Addison
27/01/06
- Obituary

steele addison

Countryman, conservationist, farmer, local politician are only a few of the words which sum up the work and life of Steele Addison who died on Saturday (January 21), aged 74.

Steele, as he was known by all, was a straight talker albeit with a glint in his eye, and he fought many campaigns to help preserve the rural way of life during his years in public office.

In fact, it was the threatened closure of the village school in Kings Meaburn where his family has farmed since records began that first got him into local government and elected to the county council in 1982.

Born Robert John Steele Addison, he attended the village school, furthering his education as a boarder at the private Appleby Grammar School.

He had a place waiting form him at Newcastle Medical School when he returned from doing his National Service in the Middle East at 19 however, on his return he switched his degree to agriculture.

It was while he was working on his thesis for an honours degree in forestry - one of his great passions - that he met his future father-in-law, the Hexham auctioneer and valuer AT Iveson.

Steele had chosen to study the employment opportunities in the Kielder Valley and Mr Iveson was involved in livestock valuations. This resulted in many meetings.

Then, once Steele graduated at the age of 25 and decided he would travel and went to Canada where he worked on an oil crew then as the boss of a logging camp on Vancouver Island before his father’s poor health brought him home after three years to farm at Greystone House.

He and Margaret were married in 1958 and they farmed Greystone House and Keld Farm, Kings Meaburn. The 600 acres, 100 acres of which are mixed woodland, until his death were run in partnership with their two sons Chris and John.

Their eldest, Karen Addison, is a licensing director and lives in Milton, Oxfordshire, while their middle son Robert is an auctioneer with Harrison & Hetherington in Carlisle.

Steele became involved with the Country Landowners Association taking on the roles of county chairman, and president as well as sitting on the agriculture, policy and land use sub committee.

He chaired the Steele Addison report concerning the future of agriculture and attended meetings with the CLA’s Scottish sister organisation in Edinburgh.

More recently he began attending local CLA meetings again, thoroughly enjoying another little taste of mild debate.

In 1964 he became one of the county’s youngest magistrates at Shap court, taking over the chairmanship which continued for 11 years. He retired as a magistrate at the age of 70.

His election to Cumbria County Council as Conservative member for Lowther and Shap led him onto the Lake District National Park authority, chairing the park management committee for three years from 1985 and eventually taking on the role of chairman of the authority itself in 1989.

In 1992 he was elected chairman of the Association of National Parks and during that time he travelled to national parks in Russia and Finland. In 1995, his final year in office, he was proud to be able to host the annual conference of National Park Authorities in Keswick with the appropriate theme ‘I will lift up mine eyes to the hills’.

During these years he always maintained that the national park was a working landscape available to everyone and it should not be treated like a museum.

David Maclean, who first met Steele during his successful election campaign as MP for Penrith and the Border in 1983, described him as a ‘truly great Cumbrian’.

“He was one of the best chairmen of the national park authority and a great county councillor, and, more importantly, he was a good, practical down to earth man with no airs and graces. He had the right sense of how the county should be governed and how the national park should be run. He kept his sense of humour right to the end.”

Steele became a deputy Lord Lieutenant of the county in 1993, he was made a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in 1997.

Always keen to support his local community, Steele was treasurer of the village hall committee for a number of years as well as being chairman of Kings Meaburn Parish Meeting.

As well as his great love of the Lyvennet Valley, Appleby was always a favourite place and that, combined with his interest in football, resulted in many local people rallying  to his challenge to support the committee’s plans to build a new clubhouse with squash courts, completed in record time in 1982.

He was president of Appleby Football Club and chairman of Appleby Grammar School governors. He was also chairman of the Appleby flood defence committee.

First and foremost a farmer and an arboriculturist - he had planted his first trees at the age of 18 long before conservation became an issue. Other pleasures were family and friends as well as shooting.

He always said the highlight of his farming career was to see his Simmental bull Lyvennet Adam being led by the family around the Perth show ring to be awarded the supreme male championship in 1991. He admitted shedding a few tears.

Steele is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Karen, sons Chris, Robert and John and nine grandchildren, and sisters Mary Warburton, of Appleby, Cathy Nattrass, of Kings Meaburn, and Audrey March, of Soulby.

The funeral service is taking place at St Laurence’s Church, Morland, on Saturday (January 28) at 1pm.

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