Sunday, 22 September 2019

Giant marrow

Giant marrow

THE new chairman of the Binfield Heath Flower Show says her first year at the helm was a success.

Evelyn McQuater, who took over the role from Peter Ransom after serving as vice-chairwoman last year, is hoping for record attendance figures and takings following the 71st annual event on Saturday.

Hundreds of families attended and enjoyed a variety of traditional fairground games and activities as well as a flower, produce and handicraft show which attracted 750 entries from both adults and children.

The winning entries included an enormous marrow grown by Carl Lambourne, from Dunsden Green, which visitors stopped to admire and photograph.

Brothers Stephen and Nigel Head, who both live in Binfield Heath and are regular show entrants, won six trophies and dozens of individual classes between them.

Stephen won the Mrs Stephenson cup for flowers, the Shakler Memorial Cup for preserves and cookery, the George Henbest Cup and the Grace Smith Memorial Bowl for hybrid tea roses.

Nigel won the Mrs Makower Cup for vegetables and the Fred Denton Cup for fruit.

Nigel said: “It’s nice to win but it’s mostly just about taking part.

“This is a great event for the area as it brings the village together. It seems to have gone really well this year — it looks like entries are slightly down but attendance is very high.”

Dan and Wendy Nicholson won a trophy each after entering for the first time since they moved to the village 50 years ago.

Mr Nicholson took home the Phillimore Family Cup with entries that included a wooden puppet fisherman who doffed his cap when a wheel was turned.

His wife won the Mrs Hemeon Cup for senior citizens with entries including a hand-sewn depiction of a lizard catching a fly.

Mr Nicholson said: “We’ve been to the show most years since we moved here but haven’t entered for many decades. I’m not sure why but we felt we should enter this year.

“It’s nice to be recognised but we’re happy to be supporting the show as it’s such a big part of village life. Everyone loves coming together for it.”

Artist Joan Edwards, from Lower Shiplake, won one of the handicraft classes with a paper sculpture of an angel. She created it several years ago and it has previously been displayed at Christ Church United Reformed Church in Reading Road, Henley.

Mrs Edwards said: “It’s a fantastic result but I don’t do these things to win. It’s more about sharing it with others. Having taken the time to create it, it’s lovely to have a community event where people can do that.”

Ava Douglas, eight, from Binfield Heath, was awarded the Ann Williams Memorial Cup and Olivia Wolska Cup.

She won several classes, including masks inspired by entrants’ favourite animals for which she submitted a papier-mâché elephant mask.

She said: “I enjoy doing art and I’m very happy to win.”

David Lloyd, from Shiplake, took home the Eye and Dunsden Challenge Cup for onions, the George and Wally Cleaver Tankard and the John Cooper Memorial Cup for best exhibit by a local adult.

Mr Lloyd, who has been taking part for more than 30 years, said: “The growing conditions this year were pretty good on the whole. It got a bit hairy when there were strong winds earlier in the year but they didn’t blow the dahlias about too much.

“The show has been exceptionally good this year. There seems to be a lot more people about, which is probably because it has been well advertised and there are more sideshows going on.

“It’s always well supported because it’s such an integral part of the

Martin Hedges, from Emmer Green, took the RHS Banksian Medal for most points in the horticulture sections as well as the Ray Williams Memorial Cup for top tray, the Dick Cotterill Cup for vegetables and the Konrad Engbers Cup.

Rosie Richardson, of Binfield Heath, won the Bert and Joan Winter Cup for best local child’s exhibit while Elie Byron-Scott, from Lower Shiplake, took the Engelfield Cup and RHS Junior Award for best children’s horticultural entry.

Show treasurer Anne Croxson, of Sonning Common, won the Chairman’s Cup for service to the event after serving in the role for more than 12 years.

She said: “I’m flabbergasted and had no idea this was happening. I’ve supported the show for so long because it’s such a friendly, personal occasion and everyone is so pleased to be able to come.”

Mrs McQuater said: “It’s thoroughly well deserved as Anne is a much-loved figure in the village and is extremely proficient with a great eye for detail. She is greatly respected for her contributions over many years.”

There was also a fun dog show with prizes awarded in categories including the happiest-looking dog which went to Monty, a seven-year-old sprocker, being looked after by dog sitter Calum Mclean, from Kidmore End.

Mr Mclean, whose daughter Ailsa walked Monty around the show ring, said: “It has been really good fun and Monty certainly is very happy. His owner is abroad on holiday but I’ll be ringing him to pass on the news.”

The Consersk Cup for the best local dog went to Sara Steward, from Playhatch, for her cockapoo Lulu.

New attractions at this year’s show included a petting zoo featuring goats, ducks, guinea pigs, Shetland ponies, llamas and alpacas which visitors could feed.

Luke Quirk, of Caversham, exhibited his collection of exotic animals, including spiders, snakes and a bearded dragon named Flame, which could change colour.

Back for the second year running were Simon Bishop and his daughter Alice, who ran a ferret racing display and exhibited several owls. There were also children’s races, a Punch and Judy show, a single wicket cricket and “beat the goalie” competitions, face-painting, pottery painting, hoopla, an electronic “buzz wire”, a coconut shy and a stall where children could smash plates by throwing balls at them.

Phil Dyer, from Dunsden, was giving rides on his 1960 Fordson Dexta tractor and there was a display of classic cars, motorbikes and agricultural vehicles.

Photographer Alan Greeley was exhibiting old images of Binfield Heath while the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group displayed artefacts from a pre-Roman farmstead that was excavated near the village a few years ago.

The Binfield Heath Village Society ran the tea tent and the Shoulder of Mutton pub at Playhatch ran a beer tent and soft drinks stall.

Music was provided by the Woodley Concert Band, who played arrangements of classic pop songs from the Sixties to the present day.

Show secretary Charles Foster said: “It’s disappointing that entries were slightly down but the standard was higher than last year, which was likely due to the more favourable growing conditions. Attendance was very strong so in all we’re very pleased.”

Mrs McQuater, who become involved with the show four years ago, said: “It was a huge success. I’ve had so many compliments and I think the attendance was definitely down to the many different animals and the greater number of sideshows.

“We don’t yet know exactly how many attended but it was very busy and many people have said it was our busiest ever.

“Most of the feedback has praised how much there was to see and do and we’re hoping to have made more money than last year.

“The weather was wonderful, which I imagine also helped, and the standard of entries for the produce show was superb. The tea tent also seems to get more popular every year.

“There is a lot of work involved in organising this but it’s so rewarding to be part of such a vibrant community. We want to preserve that sense of an old-fashioned village produce show because there’s so much history behind it.

“It’s terribly important to continue this as it has been established for a long time and we want to build on this year’s success.”

• See the full results and more pictures in next week’s Henley Standard.

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