Hundreds turn out to bid farewell to much-loved Duns Tew farmer Jonnie Miall

The streets of Duns Tew were lined with people for the funeral procession of Jonathan Miall who died in a tragic accident on his farm earlier this month.

Monday, 27th July 2020, 2:45 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 3:45 pm
Jonnie Miall whose funeral procession last Wednesday drew Duns Tew residents to the roadside to say farewell

The cortege - a tractor and trailer decorated with crops from local farms - set out from Lower Farm last Wednesday morning to the sound of a shotgun salute. An RAF Puma helicopter hovered overhead in a gesture of respect to Jonnie Miall, a pilot himself, who had welcomed the RAF to train on his land.

Jonnie, age 46, died in an accident on July 2, at Lower Farm, the family home for four generations. Often to be seen on his tractor in the fields and lanes of Duns Tew, Jonnie was popular and much-respected. Everyone knew his broad ear-to-ear grin.

He was an advocate for village life, serving on the Parish Council for several years. His local knowledge, razor-sharp wit and willingness to contribute were much appreciated.

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Jonnie Miall's funeral cortege passes his local in Duns Tew, The White Horse

He had an inquisitive mind and believed in healthy debate, whether with friends in The White Horse, as a contributor and one-time co-presenter on Radio Oxford’s Bill Heine show or as a member of the audience for BBC TV’s Question Time.

Jonnie was an exceptional farmer, horseman and true countryman, qualities inherited from his parents Terry and Mary. He respected the traditions of the past but had great vision. After school he trained at Rycotewood College. He felt a great responsibility for the sustainability of the farm and farming life and took an innovative approach to new practices and diversification.

He was generous with his support, sharing knowledge and wisdom freely with friends and the wider farming community, always ready to help a friend or neighbour.

Jonnie was one of the best shots in the county. Competitive, but always with a friendly rivalry, he treated defeat with grace and success with humility. In the field, he raised a smile when shooting with his Dachshund gun dog.

The decorated tractor and trailer funeral cortege travels from Duns Tew to Banbury

A surprise 40th birthday from his wife Tam led to Jonnie discovering his real passion - flying. He loved nothing more than to take family, friends, people from the village up in a Katana plane and never tired of viewing his home from the air.

His tutor at Oxfordshire Sport Flying Club said: "I have taught many, many people to fly over the years but there was something special about Jonathan. Jonathan was a good pilot and a great man, his talent was as natural as he was. We will miss Jonathan, his humour, his humility, his awe inspiring positivity and most of all his friendship. If a man could sprout feathers, he did.”

A post by RAF Benson on Facebook on the morning of the funeral bid Jonnie a final farewell. It said: "For many years, he provided us with land for our helicopters to conduct essential training on which has helped to ensure hundreds of crews are qualified to fly on operations in the UK and overseas."

David Jackson, chairman of the Duns Tew Parish Council, said: "We all appreciated his contribution to the council and treasured his swift and down-to-earth grasp of the issues coupled with his quick, razor sharp wit.

RAF Benson posted this picture of a Puma helicopter on its Facebook page. A Puma hovered over Lower Farm as the funeral cortege departed

"He was a wonderful presence in the meeting room with a smile or a cheeky grin, encouraging us not to take ourselves too seriously and yet always willing to do what he could to contribute to the workings of the village and all that this entails. His local knowledge, born through a lifetime of living here, brought such richness and context to our proceedings. We shall all miss him greatly."

During his funeral, Jonnie was remembered as a man who spent his life making a difference, a man who trod lightly on this earth but left the deepest imprint on the things and the people he cared about.

Jonnie is survived by his wife of 21 years, Tam, their two children and his parents Terry and Mary Miall. They would like to thank everyone who supported them at the time of Jonnie’s death and everyone who has sent messages of condolence and given them such support since. He will be greatly missed by many people.

A family man, a country man, a true gentleman. A man who gave more than he took.