TRIBUTE has been paid to a mechanic known throughout the Herefordshire farming community after his death at the age of 94.

Known as Herbie, Herbert Collins made his name as a mechanic at Ravenhills, where he developed an enviable skill for fixing balers, tractors, and all sorts of agricultural equipment.

He was promoted to salesman and soon he was selling Fordson Dextas, Majors and hay making equipment all over Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.

But when Ravenhills were taken over in 1966, Herbie left to form a new partnership with John Payne, with Collins and Payne were formed early 1967.

Hard work and Herbie’s salesmanship soon turned it into a successful business and they expanded into new buildings.

Son Philip and later younger son John joined the business, John Payne went his own way and Herbert Collins and Sons were formed, putting up agricultural buildings and making Collins Trailers.

Herbie had an extensive list of fellow dealers so he soon signed up other agricultural dealers to sell the range of grain and silage trailers, said son Philip.

That trailer element of the business was eventually sold, around 1988 to concentrate on the core businesses of Agricultural equipment which grew into Collins Services and Collins Design and Build, who continued the construction business and they are continuing to thrive today.

As well as his business acumen, Herbie had a love of motorsport and in 1959 was instrumental in getting a group of like minded friends together to race six cars around a track at Peterchurch Show, which grew into Pontrilas Jalopy Club, followed by Goytre, Cwmdu, Hereford, Severn Valley Jalopy Clubs and eventually Autograss racing, which now boasts thousands of competitors all across the country.

In later life he decided he needed more hobbies so started playing golf and shooting which brought him into contact with so many other groups of people across the county and well beyond.

"His ability to stand up in front of a crowded room and tell stories and jokes soon made him a very popular after dinner speaker and his popularity grew," said Philip.

"He had an enviable sense of timing and an ability to mimic accents which allowed him access to all sorts of unexpected venues such as the Grosvenor Hotel in London and speaking to an audience of PZ – an Dutch agricultural manufacturer in Amsterdam as well as at the Zetor factory in Czechoslovakia.

"Even in his 90s he would readily get on his feet and regale his then comparatively small audience with stories of the past and Jethro jokes which he loved doing."

Herbie was taken to hospital in Hereford where he died at the age of 94 after suffering a stroke on September 4.

"He will be missed by many but not forgotten," Phillip said.