Sadly John Burge, the founder of The Friiends of Ferguson Heritage in the UK passed away on 7th June at the age of only 67. I know that many in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand knew, or knew of him.
I attended John's funeral yesterday. A moving event attended by his family, friends and some members of FOFH and his local NVTEC club.
His family had placed on display a lovely photo collection of John through his life and of course with tractors and tractor friends.
I first met John at a vintage show on Anglesey when he and a group were going round shows recruiting membership for the to be formed FOFH. He approached me to see if I would join. I said yes, subject to Massey-Harris being included and that is how Massey-Harris came to be included on the front cover of the Heritage magazine. I was soon the rep. for N. Wales and was to attend many meetings of the club at Banner Lane where John was always at pains to make everyone welcome. As the club grew John realised that it had to change to a company status and he invited me to serve as a director on the first company board along with himself,John Moffitt, John Caldwell, Jim Russell and Anna Patrick. There was always a laugh and a tease at these events. It is now sobering to me to realise that I am the last of the four Johns on that board to still be fiddling with tractors as John Caldwell has passed away only days after John Burge.
John will perhaps be best remembered for his organisation of the 50th anniversary event at the Royal Show - the effort that he put into creating and organising this was beyond belief. The next year he attended the 150th anniversary of Massey-Harris in Canada representing MF and he delivered a superb humorous speech in a style that only John could. MF had an invaluable ambassador.
Times moved on. John gave up as managing director of FOFH and utimately retired to Machynleth in west Wales - an area he had visited for many years and quite evidently fallen in love with. We would often call on him if we were travelling south and likewise he was not an infrequent visitor to us and my collection in N. Wales. He often brought friends with him both from Wales and overseas - the latter whom he had met on his numerous visits to Australia and New Zealand. When we visted him there was always a warm reception, much tractor banter and often a piece of superb Madiera cake which he had always proudly made himself! He was a good cook and kept an immaculate garden.
John will be sadly missed by all who knew him. A man full of energy and enormous vision for the Ferguson movement.
Rest well John - there will be many Fergusons where you have gone to cogitate and fiddle with. Right up to the end he had an ongoing tractor restoration project in the garage of his house. No-one will replace you for the sheer vibrancy that you brought to Friends of Ferguson Heritage