THE funeral of a farmer and church steward from Christleton is being held today.

Eric Handley Beech died at Birch Heath Lodge on December 18, aged 93.

He is survived by his three children, 15 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

The service takes place at Blacon Crematorium at 11am followed by Christleton Methodist Chapel at 11.45am, officiated by the Rev Claire Heald.

A lifelong resident of Christleton, Eric was born at Brown Heath Farm on March 26, 1917.

The family first settled in the village in 1896 when Eric’s grandmother moved from Nantwich with her four sons to take up a farming tenancy.

She farmed the land between Christleton and Waverton and the farm buildings at the time were in the middle of the village, just a few yards from where Birch Heath Lodge was later built.

His father George inherited the farm tenancy in 1913 and married Edith Handley, daughter of a farming family from a farm where Vicars Cross Golf Club House now stands.

Eric wished to join the RAF, but on his parents wishes followed them into farming. In 1940 he married Phyllis Johnson, a farmer’s daughter from Staffordshire, and took over the farm tenancy.

Eric, who enjoyed playing snooker, was a determined character and shrewd businessman. He developed the 75-acre farm into a successful dairy enterprise which was handed on to his eldest son in 1968.

Eric’s other main focus in life was the Methodist chapel in Christleton, where he was chapel steward, continuing his family’s association with the church spanning 110 years. His sister Ivy and wife Phyll, who passed away in 1995, were joint organists at the chapel for nearly 60 years.