Tributes to well-known haulier Bernard Howard

Bernard Howard - a colourful character.
Bernard Howard - a colourful character.
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The funeral of a well-known local businessman, community activist and all-round colourful character is being held next week.

Bernard Howard, for many years the driving force behind King’s Cliffe haulage company PC Howard, died peacefully in his sleep on November 3 at the age of 75.

His last visit to the company offices was on the day before his death, distributing poppies to staff on behalf of the Royal British Legion, as he had done for many years.

“As usual he was inquisitive as to what we were doing and gave us advice from his own experiences,” managing director Andrew Howard, Bernard’s nephew, said this week.

“He retained a keen interest in the company. He will be sadly missed.”

He leaves a widow, Janet, children Kevin and Mandy and grandchildren Ged, Jenny and Becky.

In a statement this week, his family said his life was dedicated to the road haulage industry. As well as being behind the development of the family distribution and warehousing business, he played a very active part in defending the haulage industry for more than 50 years and was known for his robust views.

An active participant in fuel protests, Mr Howard lobbied parliament and regularly wrote to the Prime Minister of the day.

In 1999 he made a televised five-minute speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton on the plight of the haulage industry and pig farmers. He received a standing ovation. And in 2007 he confronted Gordon Brown at the CBI Conference.

“He was always calling for action ‘this day’ and despite the fact that there have been more secretaries of state for transport than in any other government department, they would all have heard of Bernard Howard,” his family said.

Mr Howard was born in King’s Cliffe in 1937, the second son of Percy and Connie Howard who became farmers. In the Second World War Percy lost half the farm as an airfield and diversified into haulage.

After his own national service, Mr Howard developed a lifelong interest in our military services. He became a member of the Royal British Legion and was instrumental in building the memorial at King’s Cliffe Airfield and forming the King’s Cliffe Airfield Memorial Trust.

The memorial was unveiled in 1983 by the Duke of Gloucester and many American servicemen who had been stationed at the base attended.

In the early 1960s Mr Howard joined his twin brother Roy and younger brother Bill in the family business. Initially he drove one of the lorries and became known for never turning work away. The company worked for London Brick for many years, during which time Mr Howard gave up lorry-driving and moved into the office.

Percy Howard died in 1968, by which time the farming side had turned to pig production - eventually a unit of 4,000 animals.

In the mid-1970s the family bought West Hay Farm in Stamford Road, Kings Cliffe, where the haulage business is based today. The Howard family now farm 1,000 acres between King’s Cliffe and Wansford, although the pig unit closed 10 years ago.

As the business expanded under Howard’s leadership it began a 25-year relationship with British Steel.

The end of steel-making in Corby brought a new challenge and Mr Howard responded with the establishment of a new depot in Corby which introduced PC Howard to warehousing and later parcel delivery.

The company now has a fleet of 100 vehicles, an additional depot at Brixworth and operating centres in Huntingdon and Oakham.

Mr Howard handed over the day-to-day running to his nephew Andrew in the 1990s.

He became involved in a number of groups, including the Corby & East Northants Conservative Association, the Navy Association and the Berlin Airlift Association. He was also a member of King’s Cliffe Parish Council for many years.

l The funeral is being held on Saturday, November 24 at 11am at King’s Cliffe Parish Church where parking is difficult. Transport will be provided from the company depot in Stamford Road. Refreshments will be available at the depot afterwards. Funeral directors are Crowsons and Mr Howard requested family flowers only. Donations can be made instead to Communicare.