Don passed away on 25 August 2013. The following obituary was printed in The Oxford Times:
Don Hawken, who has died aged 94, farmed more than 1,000 acres of land in South Oxfordshire and was chairman of the county branch of the National Farmers Union (NFU)… He turned out to have an innovative approach to farming, designing and building a machine for picking up the corn stooks mechanically from the fields and was the first county farmer to have cabs on his tractors. During the 1960s he was also responsible for helping to set up one of the first farmers’ buying co-operatives, Sinodun Farmers.
Don Hawken was born at Akeman Street Farm, Combe, on June 16, 1919. He spent his childhood at Queenford Farm in Dorchester, where his father farmed, before attending New College School and then Magdalen College School. But for the intervention of the Second World War he would have gone on to the University of Reading, but served in France with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
When he returned from the war Mr Hawken began working on the family farm and later took on his first farm, in Wotton Underwood. In 1960 he bought Slade End Farm at Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, and ran this in conjunction with Mount Farm as one unit. He added Blackalls Farm at Cholsey to this in 1970, meaning he was farming more than 1,000 acres.
Mr Hawken retired from farming in his seventies and shortly afterwards moved to Wells, North Somerset, with his wife Joan, to be closer to her family. Since he retired part of his land was sold off for the Wallingford bypass, but the rest is still owned by the Hawken family.
Don Hawken died of cancer on August 25 and his funeral was held at Wells Cathedral on September 9. He is survived by his wife, his children Liz, Fiona, John and Helen, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
His daughter Fiona also provided us with the following excerpts from the eulogy given at Don’s funeral:
He was a very generous man – particularly with his time. He was always keen to help others, whether it be lending a piece of farm equipment or helping out with some sound advice.
He had tremendous qualities – Strength, Dignity and Laughter, these three special qualities he retained to the end. He had a rich and fulfilled life, and with it went an immense vitality of spirit, which never failed him. In an interview in 1962, he made the following comment:
‘There is something about the country and its closeness to God and nature that a townsman misses completely, but which a countryman has. If Politicians were countrymen, I am sure there would be far less unrest in the world.’