Thursday, 05 August 2021

What a show (despite cold)

THOUSANDS of people attended this year’s Henley Show despite gloomy skies and chilly temperatures.

THOUSANDS of people attended this year’s Henley Show despite gloomy skies and chilly temperatures.

Visitors wrapped up against the autumn weather, which was in contrast to the heatwave at last year’s event.

There was no repeat of last year’s problems with traffic as people left the showground at Greenlands Farm, near Hambleden on Saturday.

Show chairman Mike Cannon said: “Everybody I spoke to said they really enjoyed it — I didn’t hear a single bad word. Last year’s problems were a very unfortunate blip — we had never experienced them before and we don’t anticipate them happening in future.

“We were very lucky with the weather this year. It wasn’t as sunny as it was last year but fortunately the rain held off.

“Entries were up in almost every area. There were about 30 per cent more in the sheep and cattle classes and the chickens were probably up 10 per cent.

“We have a team of about 70 volunteers who worked very hard all year to make it happen, so congratulations to them. It’s great when you look around and see that everything has come together on the day. Everyone involved must have been delighted.”

Mr Cannon admitted visitor numbers were down on last year but said: “That’s the problem with any outdoor event — it’s always dependent on the weather.”

The 122nd show featured dozens of competition classes for cattle, sheep, poultry, heavy horses, caged birds and produce. The supreme champion was Park Hill Hubert, a two-year-old Limousin bull owned by Jean Dickens, from Milton Keynes. He also won best Continental.

Mrs Dickens’ grandson Josh Jack, 12, won junior young handler in the six to 12 age group.

Sir Martyn Arbib, who founded Perpetual, the forerunner to Invesco Perpetual, was overall champion in the purebred British beef classes.

James Hicks, 15, from Woodcote, won the senior young handler prize with his 18-month-old Limousin cow Classy Bird and his sister Georgina, 16, won commercial beef champion with one-year-old Limousin Black Pearl.

The pair live in Hagbourne Close with their parents Sam and David, who have owned Kingwood Farm in Wyfold Lane, Peppard, for 13 years and the children help out.

James said: “I had to show I could control the animal and then answer questions about health and caring for them. The Henley Show is a great event and I feel really happy to have won.”

Tim Saint, from Playhatch, won several prizes in the produce classes, including one for his 420lb pumpkin. It was more than 3ft wide and much heavier than the 352lb pumpkin with which he won last year.

The 32-year-old gardener planted the seed in April and harvested his prize a week before the show.

Mr Saint said his secret was regular feed and plenty of water. “You never know quite how big they’re going to be and that’s part of the excitement,” he said. “I’m really chuffed with how it came out and to have won.” His produce impressed T’Pau singer and Henley resident Carol Decker, who posted a photo of his cabbage and pumpkins on her Twitter account. She tweeted: “I want those veg tested for drugs. They are FREAKY big.”

Mr Saint also won the prize for the longest marrow and came second in the cabbage category. His father Peter, 69, came first in the pumpkin and two tomatoes, two cherry categories and his mother Sylvia, also 69, won the top prize for her mixed floribunda.

Tamsin Borlase, who runs The Patch vegetable farm at Swiss Farm in Henley, came first in five categories including cherry tomatoes, dessert apples and a pair of marrows. She came second in a further four produce categories and her pumpkin came third.

Afterwards, she tweeted: “I cleaned up! Happy grower.”

Greg Cupitt-Jones, from Nettlebed, won first prize in the men’s cooking with his cheese scones and orange marmalade.

Sophie Spratley, 15, won the Ancient Order of Foresters’ Henley Show Perpetual Challenge Shield for significant contributions to the event.

The teenager and her twin sister Bella, from Marlow, have been entering various art and produce classes since they were three and Bella won the award last year.

Sophie said: “We enter the show every year — it has become a family tradition.”

She also won best in show in the children’s art section with her pink and green tie-dyed T-shirt.

Other attractions included showjumping, a dog show, trade stalls and displays of vintage tractors and classic cars. There was also a shopping marquee selling jewellery, books, clothing and hand-made furniture and decorations.

The Hants and Berks Ferret Club staged hourly races and let visitors handle their animals while Richard Savory, from New Zealand, exhibited different breeds of sheep and gave shearing demonstrations.

New to this year’s show was 67-year-old carpenter Peter Smith, who makes detailed scale replicas of Royal state coaches. Each one takes two years to build and paint by hand. He said: “People have been coming up all day and just staring open-mouthed — they can’t believe what they’re seeing.”

The show ended with a grand parade of vintage tractors during which prizes were given out. Helen Anderson, from Frieth, won the Ferguson tractor class with her 1953 TEF 20.

She attended the show with her husband Gary, their nine-year-old son Henry and a group of his friends who rode behind in a trailer. Phil Dyer, from Dunsden Green, won best restored vintage tractor with his 1960 Fordson Dexta.

After the vehicles left the arena, a marching band from the Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force performed the closing ceremony.

Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and Mayoress Catherine Allan-Notaras attended the show, as did Henley MP John Howell, who judged the most handsome specimen in the heavy horse class.

Henley and District Agricultural Association president Rick White said: “I am hugely inspired by the effort that goes into making the show a success. The team always manages to make it happen irrespective of the logistical issues they face.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to educate people about the benefits of farming and its positive effects on the wider community.”

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