A West Norfolk farming company was rewarded at the Royal Norfolk Show for its championing of the cause of the grey partridge.
The winners of this year’s Grey Partridge Award, Albanwise was described as a good example of how serious commercial farming can sit side by sidewith a conservation project of this kind.
Its management work has seen grey partridge numbers increase from just 41 pairs to 310 pairs on Hill Farm, Barton Bendish, in the space of onlyfour years.
This is the 11th year in which law firm Mills & Reeve has presented its Award, to promote the recovery of the species in Norfolk through habitat management and predator control.
The judging took place at the three shortlisted farms in early June, following the analysis of the statistics from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s autumn and spring counts.
The silver trophy, crafted by Lynn silversmith Tim Clayton, was presented on the first day of the Norfolk Show.
Anthony Blanchfield and David Chandler, from Albanwise, were there to receive it.
Mr Blanchfield, environmental manager, said it was a privilege to win the award.
He said: This is such an iconic bird and what happens to it reflects the state of the countryside as a whole.”
Mr Chandler, wildlife manager, said that the farm was always a natural habitat for the grey partridge but the company’s environmental controlmeasures, including vermin control, had given the bird that bit of extra help.
“They already liked it here and our stewardship approach has clearly paid off because numbers have risen so dramatically.”
By giving that bird a safe environment all year round, Hill Farm has also seen an increase in numbers of songbirds and other rare species including the yellow wagtail, stone curlew, corn bunting, lapwing and turtle dove.
A pony found abandoned as a foal beside her dead mother has found a loving forever home in West Norfolk and gone on to become a winner at the Royal Norfolk Show.
Picked up from a roadside by the horse charity World Horse Welfare – and now named WHW Roxanne – the little coloured mare,was competing at the show with Kellie Moden, from Magdalen, who rehomed her.
Kellie and her aunt Belinda have succeeded where others failed. Before they took Roxy on she had been rehomed several times but always sent back because of her unruly behaviour.
Belinda said: “She was only two weeks old when she was found abandoned and had to be reared by hand so she never had the discipline her mother would have given her.
She was out of control but we never gave up on her and we found the key to managing her,”
Kellie hacks Roxy out at home and took her to the show on Thursday to compete in special classes for rescued horses and ponies. After finishing fifth in the inhand class the pair were pulled in firstin the ridden section.
She said: “Everyone was in tears. We couldn’t believe we had won.”
Roxy’s success was made all the sweeter because the pony suffered a worrying bout of colic earlier in the week and nearly didn’t make it to the show at all.
“We were very worried but she recovered in time,” said her delighted rider.
A visit from a Duchess, praise from a celebrity gardener and a hat-trick of awards made it a memorable two days for Shouldhambased Thistlefield Design and Landscaping.
Paul and Honor Welford had created a delightful show garden that took centre stage in the flower and garden show. As winning a gold medal andbeing picked as the best exhibit in the show by the judges it was also voted ‘people’s choice’ by visitors.
It caught the eye of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as she toured the site on Wednesday and she accepted an invitation to step on to the stand and chat with the Welfords.
“She was interested in the materials we used and especially the fossil paving,” said Honor.
To top off a great day, TV gardening guru Monty Don was so impressed that he told the couple he thought it was as good as anything he would seeat the famous Hampton Court Flower Show in July.
An example of the company’s work will also be seen on TV in July in one of the Alan Titchmarsh-presented Love Your Garden programmes.
n Young Farmers Clubs from Terrington St Clement, Swaffham and Downham Market were there to show off their ingenuity and skills.
As part of a county challenge each group had built a compact working tractor from scratch and putting it on display on the YFC stand.
“We spent hours and hours in the workshop,” said Ollie Hill who headed up the Terrington project team. “We used a motorbike engine so in theory it should do 170 miles an hour but I don’t see anyone putting it to the test.
The Swaffham members admitted they had gone for performance over looks. “It might not be pretty but it runs, drives and pulls and we hope we might find a use for it raising money for charity in the future” said chairman Laurence Gibbs.