TRIBUTE was paid to a mechanic known throughout the Herefordshire farming community after his death at the age of 94.
Known as Herbie, Herbert Collins made a name for himself as a mechanic in Ravenhills, where he developed an enviable skill in repairing balers, tractors and all manner of farm equipment.
He was promoted to salesman and soon he was selling Fordson Dextas, Majors and hay equipment all over Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.
But when Ravenhills was taken over in 1966, Herbie left to form a new partnership with John Payne, with Collins and Payne formed in early 1967.
Herbie’s hard work and sales acumen quickly turned it into a successful business and they expanded into new buildings.
His son Philip and later his younger son John joined the business, John Payne went his own way and Herbert Collins and Sons were trained, building farm buildings and making Collins trailers.
Herbie had a long list of dealers, so he quickly recruited other agricultural dealers to sell the line of grain and silage trailers, his son Philip said.
This part of the company’s trailer was eventually sold, around 1988, to focus on the core farm equipment business, which became Collins Services and Collins Design and Build, which continued the construction business and continues to prosper today.
In addition to his business acumen, Herbie loved motorsport and in 1959 helped bring together a group of like-minded friends to race six cars around a track at the Peterchurch Show, which became the Pontrilas Jalopy Club, followed by Goytre, Cwmdu, Hereford, Severn Valley Jalopy Clubs and finally Autograss Racing, which now has thousands of competitors across the country.
Later in his life he decided he needed more hobbies and therefore started playing golf and shooting which brought him in contact with so many other groups of people across the county and beyond.
“His ability to stand in front of a crowded room and tell stories and jokes quickly made him a very popular after-dinner speaker and his popularity increased,” said Philip.
“He had an enviable sense of timing and an ability to mimic accents, which allowed him to access all kinds of unexpected places such as the Grosvenor Hotel in London and address a PZ audience – a Dutch agricultural manufacturer in Amsterdam as well as at the Zetor factory in Czechoslovakia.
“Even in his 90s, he got up easily and regaled his then relatively small audience with stories from the past and Jethro jokes he loved to make.”
Herbie was rushed to Hereford Hospital where he died at the age of 94 of a stroke on September 4.
“He will be missed by many but not forgotten,” said Phillip.