TRIBUTES have been paid to a grandad who died in a tragic accident on his farm in Belper.
Harold Hitchcock, 64, died after falling into a machine that is used to mix up feed for cattle.
His daughter, Susan, 30, was with him when the accident happened at Slades Farm, Whitewells Lane, at about 2.45pm on January 3.
She said her dad was trying to cut some string on a bale of straw, but that as he leaned on the bale he fell into the 8ft deep machine and broke his neck and spine.
The machine was not on at the time.
The emergency services were called and Susan said she jumped straight in after Harold, but she knew he was dead when she got to him, she told the News this week.
“He was a great dad,” said Susan.
She added: “I don’t think it has sunk in yet.
“It was so sudden. A matter of seconds and it was all over. From being perfectly fine, to gone.
“You start to get over it, then something triggers it.”
Harold’s wife, Carol, 58, said: “He is tremendously missed and he was greatly loved.
“He was incredibly hard-working.”
Harold combined working on the farm with driving cattle around.
He was due to retire from the lorry driving, which he had done for more than 40 years, in May.
Paul, 29, and Stephen, 27, are Harold’s two sons.
“He was going to retire to his farm,” said Paul.
“He was going to enjoy his life, have days out and take my mum out.
“He was going to see his friends on the cattle market.
“He was very popular and would do anything for anyone.
“He was a great character.
“If you met him once you would never forget him.”
Carol, who had been married to Harold for 31 years, said her husband was so hard-working that they had only had one holiday, to Devon, in 1981.
She said they were planning more for when he retired.
Harold’s friend, John Tyers, 64, said: “It would have been more acceptable if it was a heart attack, or something like that.
“With it being an accident, it gets to you.
“He probably had a good few years left of enjoying his retirement.”
Paul said: “There was nothing wrong with him at all. But all of a sudden he is gone.
“You have got to carry on, and people are helping out.”
The family said they had received more than 120 sympathy cards, which were dotted around the kitchen at the farm.
Paul said: “He had hundreds of friends and was known all over the country.”
Harold, who was due to turn 65 in May, also leaves behind two grandchildren, five-month-old Isabel, and Henry, four.
Paul said: “Henry has been told that his grandad has gone, but he doesn’t really understand it.
“He knows he has gone.”
Harold’s funeral is set to take place this Saturday, January 21, at 11am, at Christ Church, Bridge Street, in Belper. There will be a gathering afterwards at Makeney Hall in Milford.