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Agricultural celebration

PUBLISHED: 06:51 18 August 2014

Aylsham Show 2013. .

Aylsham Show 2013. . PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

The beautiful parkland of the Blickling Estate is the perfect setting for the Aylsham Show, which celebrates all that is great about rural life and the countryside.

First held in 1946, the one-day show retains its strong links with agriculture to help promote the important relationship between town and country in Norfolk. Every year around 18,000 visitors come to the show, and last year alone it raised £52,750 for local charities and organisations.

This year’s president Phillida Hurn has spent her life living a stone’s throw from the show – her father, Lord Walpole, once hosted it on his estate Wolterton Park. Since childhood, the show has been important to her, whether jumping or showing ponies or in recent years showing her Simmental and Angus cattle.

“I think my first show was in the 1950s. My father, the late Lord Walpole, was very much involved in the show – he was president in 1972. I always loved going because I was quite an independent child and loved the fact that, as a 10 year old, I could take my pony across the river and up to the showground, then return proudly with my rosette and a big smile on my face,” she laughs.

She now lives with husband Tony in Wickmere, where farming remains at the heart of their lives.

“It never entered my head that I would be president one day. When I was asked, I was really shocked but realised it wasn’t something you say no to. I have been to an awful lot of meetings and I have said an awful lot of thank yous. It has given me a very good insight into what it takes to bring it together and a huge appreciation for all the hard work and efforts of so many people.”

A committee of about 40 volunteers organise the show every year, with many more on hand to help on the day. Livestock remains at its heart, with showing classes for cattle, sheep, horses, goats and poultry. There is also show-jumping and a varied main ring programme, cookery demonstrations, food and farming marquees and a rural craft area. For lovers of vintage vehicles, there is a great selection of old tractors, farm machinery, classic cars and military vehicles to look round.

Phillida says the show has never lost its farming roots which helps maintain its special atmosphere.

“I love the fact it is such a friendly and intimate local show. It is not a show for shopping, it is a reflection of country life, of farming and the countryside.”

The show began as a fundraiser to pay for the upkeep and improvement of the Aylsham recreation ground which was donated to the town by the Goulder Family, who had lost three sons in the First World War.

The first Aylsham show on June 10, 1946, on the recreation ground. As it grew in size, the decision was made to move it to Blickling.

Highlights for this year include the return of Bolddog Lings Freestyle motor-cross team; The Chariots of Fire pony and carriage driving display team, and a fly-past of the Second World War Douglas C-47 Dakota.

Aylsham Show, Monday, August 25. Gates open at 8.00am.

Cash only admission charges, £15 adult, with accompanied children 16 and under free.

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