Graham Caspell, an enthusiast for driving the commercial application of fruit research, has sadly died (Sunday 12 December 2021). Head of Farm and Horticultural Services at East Malling, he was 64 years old.
Finishing his school education at Dover College in 1975, Graham then gained a Higher National Diploma in Agriculture at Writtle College (1976-1979), before focusing on the family farming and transport businesses. His list of ‘PA…’ spraying qualifications was nearly as long as any fruiting lateral.
Graham joined the ranks of East Malling Research as Farm Manager, in July 2008, with excitement and enthusiasm – his desire to bring a wealth of commercial fruit production expertise to the ‘steady’ long-term research trials at Malling was a potent force. It was in this role, which upgraded to Head of Farm and Horticultural Services in 2014, that Graham had a huge impact on the crops and growing systems that would then be visited, viewed and ‘handed down’ to many in the industry. His Concept Pear Orchard, his cherry planting and more recently the Plum Demonstration Orchard at the world-famous research facility at East Malling added to his first commercial melon crops – these will all forever be just some of Graham’s hallmarks. His expertise straddled both agricultural as well as the diverse horticultural range of crops grown at NIAB EMR, which is so rare in today’s land-based industries. In 2015, Graham was awarded “Specialist Fruit Grower of the Year” at the UK Grower Awards held in London.
It is outside of the farm role that Graham also impacted so positively on so many colleagues – contributing enormously to the ‘family feel’ at East Malling. A defender of the right and a helper to the many, Graham maintained an unwavering ‘to do’ list in his head that was both reliable and capable of remembering the little things that would make a difference and help a colleague.
In addition to his two children, Graham is mourned by his loving partner Krissy and all those at East Malling, the wider fruit sector and beyond that had the good fortune of calling Graham a true friend.
Further details marking the opportunity to celebrate the life of Graham Caspell will be released in due course.