Tribute to Michael Rosenberg CBE

Michael Miles Rosenberg, CBE 1938-2015

The White Park Cattle Society was sad to hear that Michael Rosenberg recently passed away.   Michael was a founder member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and was a valued friend of the President of the White Park Cattle Society, Lawrence Alderson. Lawrence has written the following tribute to Michael.


Michael Rosenberg was a larger than life personality. He first settled in England in the early 1970s but spent much of his later life in the Isle of Man. His influence touched many areas of life but he had a particular interest in farm livestock. He became involved with the embryonic Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and his energy, enthusiasm and financial support saw it become the most important rare breed’s organisation in the world. He was the most powerful driving force in RBST for many years, serving as both its Chairman and President, and was responsible for developing some of its most important projects and programmes. I have been involved with RBST from the beginning and can say without qualification that without his involvement many native breeds might have become extinct, and the significance of his work was recognised when he received a CBE in the 1980s. He was a modest unassuming man, but his gentle courtesy hid a keen mind and amazingly retentive memory which underlay his organisational ability and attention to detail. His influence spread beyond RBST. His support for the Royal Agricultural Society of England was recognised by his appointment as Vice-President, and many breeds and agricultural organisations benefitted from his support.


When I first met him in 1973 he was exploring the options open to him for his farm in Devon, but his interest soon was fixed on rare breeds. He established herds/flocks of cattle, sheep and goats which his meticulous recording and judicious breeding raised to a level where they exerted positive influence on other herds and flocks. He and I created both the Ark and Combined Flock Book which eventually were passed to RBST. He donated his herds of White Park and Longhorn cattle to the National Trust at Wimpole, and some of the sheep to RBST.  He achieved an ambition that meant a great deal to him when one of the Murray Grey cattle won the Interbreed Championship at the Royal Bath and West Show in 2015.


He was a familiar figure at Shows and RBST events in the 1970s and 1980s, rarely seen without his Camels, and developed a particularly effective style of membership recruitment based primarily on his irresistible charm and courtesy but helped inevitably by champagne and strawberries. He was equally effective in the Council chamber where his quiet, but incisive, interventions led to many positive and valuable decisions. For me, he was not only an astute business associate, but also a true and valued friend.


He also possessed a deliciously wicked sense of humour. We planned to celebrate the 80th birthday of his father, Murray, in unforgettable style. However, when the Intercontinental Hotel declined to allow us to parade a gift of two Murray Grey heifers in the hotel, Michael simply presented him instead with a package of their droppings. Despite all the fascinating aspects of his personality, Michael was essentially a private man. His influence was widespread but he would not have approved of a catalogue of his achievements and this brief commentary on his life does not do him justice. He died suddenly on November 3 at home, and we extend our condolences to his wife Jocelyn and his family.


Lawrence Alderson

%d bloggers like this: