Royal Norfolk Show crowds 'biggest for 10 years'
Organisers are delighted with the attendance figures at this week's Royal Norfolk Show.
Once the sums are added up, they expect the final tally of visitors to top 85,000 which is the highest number for ten years.
It was helped by perfect show weather, a visit from the Countess of Wessex, a packed programme of entertainment and record numbers in the livestock classes.
One of the highlights of yesterday's second day was the presentation of long service awards to farm workers who, between them, had completed an impressive 891 years in the agriculture industry.
They included Freddy Futter, a forester on the Holkham Estate for 40 years, who was a member of a team caring for more than 870 hectares of woodland on the estate and nature reserve.
The award came out of the blue for Freddy, 68, who said he was only just recovering from the surprise of being given a Royal Forestry Society award last month.
“It has been a bit of a shock but I am very pleased and honoured,” he said.
Two colleagues from Sporle Farms were also in the line-up. Neville Hunt and John Steward were poultry and general farm workers for 40 years and, along with Freddy, received certificates from the show's vice-president and owner of Houghton Hall, Lord Cholmondeley.
Over in the cattle rings, 12-year-old Tia Barrett added yet another red rosette to the collection of ribbons the Barrett family had won the previous day in the beef shorthorn classes.
With Rosetta from their Glenariff herd at Bawsey, she was chosen as best young handler in the 10-12 years age group. Tia had been given special permission to take time out from Springwood High School.
Mum Danielle said it is looked on work experience as she is so enthusiastic about the cattle.
She said: “She helps to feed and straw them and has been practising her ringcraft with Rosetta ready for today.”
Tia said: “Rosetta behaved really well for me.”
Andrew, Danielle and the family took several animals to the show and came home with awards that included breed champion with their heifer Morna as well as exhibiting the best group of three, best cow and calf and best senior bull.
Danielle said that it is a always a special show for them, adding: “Andrew and I first met here in the cattle rings 19 years ago and we have been married for 13 years.”
Another young handler who impressed the judges was nine-year-old Grace Carter, from Blackborough End.
Having first exhibited at the show two years ago, she was back with her new calf, Heathlands Rosie, who was named supreme interbreed calf champion - Grace's first interbreed calf championship crown.
Meanwhile, George Oakes, nine, from South Pickenham, was placed third in his age group and added another rosette to the Oakes Pedigree beef shorthorn successes.
A gift from mum and dad set Tom and Joe Martin on the first steps into pedigree sheep breeding and secured the family farming operation into another generation.
Three in-lamb Texel ewes were the foundation for their venture and they now have a flourishing flock which includes prize-winning animals good enough to go before show judges.
Tom, 19, and Joe, 16, took some of their pure Texels and some Texel Charollais crosses to the show and secured a third and two fourth placings to add to the first place and reserve championship they won at the Suffolk Show a few weeks earlier.
Mum Emma said: “Their father has a commercial flock at home at River Meadow Farm, Hilgay, but the boys were keen to have some pedigree sheep so we bought them the ewes to get them started.”
With farming in their blood, the boys are set on continuing the family business and while Tom has completed two years at Easton College on an agriculture course, Joe will be starting there in September.
Nine-year-old Oliver Snow, from Barroway Drove, was proud to earn a sixth place in the first ridden pony classes on his little Dartmoor in the mountain and moorland first ridden class.
Springwater Stop The Music is owned by his mum Katie , from Barroway Drove. “It is Oliver's first year in this category and it was a strong class so we are happy,” she said.
While dozens more West Norfolk exhibitors were collecting awards in the livestock classes, others were entertaining the crowds. They included West Norfolk Foxhounds who paraded in the main ring and piglets from Church Farm, Stow Bardoph, who competed in the Ham National steeplechase and had the punters squealing with excitement.