Stan Lynch

Stan Lynch from the Upton Cider Farm died in hospital on January 8th 2008.

STANLEY LYNCH 1921-2008

Stan had been in hospital quite a lot over the past three months but he always returned home to his place in the orchard. It was very fitting that this last hospital visit was short.

Stan was a very proud and independent man and he had been self-sufficient all his life. It was this, together with his stubbornness and determination within his character that enabled him to achieve the things he did during his lifetime.

He was born in Salford in 1921, and his father suffered greatly from his experiences during the First World War, which created some difficulties, both emotional and financially, during Stanley’s early years. His mother struggled and worked extremely hard to make ends meet and Stanley earned money with small jobs in his early years to help supplement his mother’s income.

He struggled with school and as soon as he was able to, he left and took an apprenticeship with an electrical firm. When the Second World War started, rather than waiting to be called up Stanley decided to enlist in the Royal Navy. He didn’t want to be conscripted into the army given his father’s experiences in the first war, and he certainly wasn’t having anything to do with, as he put it “those Brillcream Boys” of the Air Force.

Stanley had quite a distinguished career in the Navy during the war, serving a lot in North Africa, and he was awarded the British Empire Medal, a fact of which he was inordinately proud for disarming a torpedo that had been washed up on a beach just north of Gambia in a vital location.

Towards the end of his time in the Royal Navy he was promoted to Petty Officer and became an instructor at the Chatham Torpedo School, where he taught the intricacies of minesweeping.

After the war Stanley left the Royal Navy and joined the Merchant Navy sailing around the world on some of the luxury liners, mostly with the Cunard Line as an Electrical Engineer Officer. He had some wonderful stories to tell about his times at sea and I think it was a time in his life, which, even though it was difficult, he really enjoyed.

After his time at sea and having moved around the country quite a lot with various jobs, coming further south each time, he eventually took a complete career change and decided to go into teaching and became a Lecturer in electrical engineering in Oxford. Given the fact that he struggled with his early education this really was a brave step and took a lot of determination and hard work on his part to achieve success but, as with everything else he took on as a challenge in his life, he stuck with it and it was a change that he made a success of and found fulfilling.

It was this stubbornness and determination that enabled him to tackle his most challenging project and create what is now known as The Upton Fruit Farm. In 1968 Stan bought the 16-acre meadow in Upton that was to become the cider orchard. He planted the cider apple trees in the early seventies, and in 1973 he got permission to build himself a thatched house in the young orchard. Initially he was refused permission to build a house there, but he stuck with it, and eventually got permission and built up the house and the business.

The cider apples were at first sold to the Taunton Cider Company and used to make Blackthorn Cider. In 1983, Stan decided to make his own cider in his orchard and formed the Upton Cider Company. He also decided to make the orchard organic which although common now was a bold and innovative step at that time.

In 1999, aged then 78, he decided to slow down a little and sold the business to Robert and Valerie Fitchett, but he continued to live in the orchard and to help with the annual cider making. His advice and knowledge led to Upton Sweet Cider being judged by CAMRA to be the best English Cider in both 2004 and 2005.

Over the last couple of years his health had deteriorated somewhat and he suffered a lot of pain from his arthritis, but he continued to be as independent as he could. He relied very much upon the help and kindness of his friends and neighbours, who enabled him to stay in a home he loved for as long as possible.

I asked Stan once whether he had any regrets in his life and he told me he wished he discovered the pleasure of the orchard years and years earlier. Having helped with the harvest for the past several years I understand completely the pleasure and peace that living and working in the orchard provides. The annual harvest will never quite be the same again, Stan will be sorely missed.

Graham De Wilde