TRIBUTES have been paid to “one of the best ploughmen the world has ever known”, who has died, aged 71.

Graeme Witty, who lived near West Lutton, died last Sunday, following an industrial accident at his home.

He first competed in the British National Ploughing Championships in the early 1970s as a young farmer, but his success came in the 1980s and 1990s when he won the British conventional title five times and the British reversible title once.

From his success at national level, Graeme went on to represent his country at the World Ploughing Contest a total of eight times.

He was the first ploughman ever to win both the World Conventional and Reversible Championship titles.

Graeme won the conventional title in 1988 in the USA, in1990 in the Netherlands and in 1992 in Spain, along with the reversible title in 1998 in Germany.

Graeme was also a director of the Society of Ploughmen for 25 years.

A spokesperson for the Society of Ploughmen said: “Graeme was a very well respected judge at local, national and international ploughing matches.

“His sons, Simon and James, have both followed in his footsteps, both having since won the World Reversible Ploughing Championships.

They added: “Graeme was a gentleman who was always willing to give help and advice to others.

“He will be sadly missed by the ploughing community, not only in this country but my his many friends and colleagues around the world.

“Our thoughts are with his family.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “At 6.30pm on Sunday, May 3, police attended a report of an industrial accident on a farm near Malton.

“Ambulance crews also attended and sadly a man in his 70s was pronounced dead at the scene.”

The spokesperson said: "Officers do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the man’s death and the incident was referred to the Health and Safety Executive, which is standard procedure for industrial accidents.”